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Changing Your Name After a Virginia Divorce (Part B)

Many women see their married last name as a constant reminder of a part of their life that they would prefer to disappear.  Especially when there are no children born to the parties during the marriage, name changes are common.  Fortunately for you, a name change after a divorce is an easy thing to accomplish.  It can be done as a part of your final divorce decree, and then you just have to follow these steps to make it official on all of your legal documents.

How to Change Your Name After a Virginia Divorce

Step 1 - Your Virginia Divorce Decree

When you are going through a Virginia divorce, try to think ahead about a name change.  If you plan to return to your maiden name after your divorce, notify your Virginia divorce attorney so that he or she can make sure the judge includes both the old name and the new name on your Virginia divorce decree. An official decree is the first piece of paperwork you'll need to provide to other organizations and businesses.

If you’re already divorced and you didn’t take care of your name change along with your divorce, you can petition the court to have your name legally changed.  Don’t worry; it’s fine!

Step 2 – Social Security

Once you have your Virginia divorce decree, the next step thing you'll have to do is change the name on your Social Security card with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Complete the Social Security name change application and either mail it or bring it with you to your local SSA office. It might be easiest go to in person since you will also need to provide several official documents.

The documents you need to provide include:  

  • your Virginia divorce decree;
  • proof of U.S. citizenship (U.S. passport or birth certificate); and
  • proof of identity (drivers license or identity card).  

Step 3 - The Department of Motor Vehicles

It will take a couple weeks to get a new Social Security card. Once you have it, the next step toward a name change in Virginia is to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get a new drivers license with your new name.

Make sure to have the following documents with you, including your:  

  • new Social Security card;
  • Virginia divorce decree; and
  • current drivers license with your married name. 

Step 4 - Notify Employers, Banks, and other Businesses

When you make a name change in Virginia, and you finally have your Social Security card and drivers license changed to your new name, the rest of the notifications should be relatively simple.

It is a good idea to make a list of all of the people and businesses you need to notify of your name change in Virginia and make a goal of contacting 3 to 5 per day. Start with your employer and your bank(s).

Expand to include your:  

  • mortgage lender;
  • car loan lender;
  • insurance carriers;
  • retirement and other investment accounts;
  • hotel/airline frequent flier programs;
  • doctors, dentists and other professionals; and
  • magazine subscriptions.  

Step 5 – Change your will and other beneficiary designations!

After you get divorced, you need to make sure that all of your documents are in order.  Along with changing your name, it’s a good idea to make sure that you change your will, living will, medical care directives, life insurance policies, and any other policies that include a beneficiary designation. 

A name change in Virginia can seem like a daunting task, but in reality, it is fairly straightforward, and it’s an important step that you should take to give yourself the best, freshest, most organized start possible.