What’s In A Name? Divorce and Legal Name Change

Posted by Leslie SarjiOct 24, 20140 Comments

Women are not required to change their names after a divorce. They may choose to keep their ex-husband's last name. There are many reasons for this. Some women think it would be a hassle to legally change their name, and some women want to keep the name so that they will share the same last name as their children. Other women simply don't care, or hated their former surname and never want it back. A name change is a personal choice.

However, undergoing a name change after a divorce, or as part of a divorce, is one of the most common things divorcing women do. It can be validating to have their surname changed from their ex-husband's last name back to their maiden name. There are even situations where women also want to have their children's last name changed as well.

Deciding to change your name after a divorce, or changing your children's last name, is a big decision. Our names often define us and we build our identities around them. It is who we are, and a name can represent certain parts of our lives. Naturally, at the end of a marriage, it makes sense that some women no longer want to identify with their former husband's surname.

Changing Surnames As Part of the Divorce Proceeding

A name change is a legal action, requiring some sort of formal acknowledgement in the eyes of the law to be valid. In South Carolina, a woman can easily change her last name by requesting that her former surname be restored as an incidental part of the divorce. The judge will acknowledge the request, and incorporate it into the divorce decree, which is a valid legal document for the purposes of a name change.

You can have copies of your divorce decree certified by the clerk of the court. Once certified, a copy of your divorce decree can serve as legal evidence of your name change and you may use this document to have your name changed on all your personal accounts and and business records.

Changing Your Name In Situations Other Than A Divorce

Maybe you thought that you'd be ok with keeping your ex-husband's name, but over time, you've decided it is a reminder of the past and you'd rather have your old surname restored. You are still able to legally change your name, it will just be a more difficult process than changing your name incidental to a divorce proceeding.

In South Carolina, getting a legal name change requires formal screening, including fingerprinting and a criminal background check. The process can be a little unnerving since you have to prove both your current identity, as well as who you want to become, in terms of your legal name.

Once You've Legally Changed Your Name – Use It!

Once you have gone through the process of legally changing your name, you will need to use it and remind others to use it. You'll have to update all of your personal and business accounts, and start using your new legal name everywhere you go.

A Charleston Family Law Attorney Can Help

A name change is an important decision. If you are divorcing and want to have your name changed, or your children's last names changed incidental to your divorce, you should seek consultation with the Charleston family lawyers at Sarji Law Firm, LLC today. Please contact us by calling 843-323-4341.

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