Changing Back to Your Maiden Name after a Virginia Divorce
Kristen Hofheimer, Attorney
After divorce, many women wish to go back to their maiden names. By reclaiming your maiden name, you may shed your identity as a wife and take back your own identity, especially if you and your husband don’t have any children in common. Though changing your name is easier as a part of a divorce proceeding, you can also petition the court independently of your divorce proceeding later on if you either change your mind after the divorce is entered, or, for whatever reason, just want to take things one step at a time.
In many cases, your final divorce decree will state that you can go back to your maiden name. You will simply need to file the name change paperwork along with your final divorce decree and other documents. There will probably also be a small filing fee for the name change that the court charges separately from the filing fee to open your divorce, but it’s usually pretty nominal. (For example, in Virginia Beach, as of Spring 2013, the fee was $21.) If your name change is not part of the Virginia divorce decree, or you wait until later to change it, you will need to file name change paperwork with the court, and attend a hearing to get the judge's approval. It’s a little more complicated if you wait until later (and it means two trips to court instead of just one), but it’s nothing you can’t handle.
After your name change is approved, you will need to go through the process of having your name changed on your accounts, credit card statements, Social Security card, driver's license, and passport. You will also need to inform the HR department at your place of employment in order to ensure that your paychecks are made out to the correct name.
After you get divorced, you’ll want to double check all of your important paperwork to see that your information is properly listed, that you’re not receiving anything that should be going to your ex, and that all of your beneficiary designations and other important documents have been altered to reflect your changed status.
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