How to Change Your Name After Divorce
Recently Divorced? Here’s exactly what you need to do.
Before we start, it’s important to remember that the processes for changing your name will vary slightly on a state and/or county level.
We’ll review how the process generally plays out but it’s important that you pay attention to the specific procedures that your county court requires.
You can also skip to the section you need with the links below.
An Introduction to the Divorce Name Change Process
Generally, there are four ways you can go about legally changing your name after a divorce, but each of these methods depends on your situation and personal preference.
Here’s what we mean:
If your divorce is not yet final, you can ask that the court change your name back to your former name. Assuming your request is granted, this will ensure that your name change is included as part of the divorce decree once that divorce is finalized.
If your divorce is final, you can request that the court amend your divorce decree to include a provision for your legal name change. Some courts won’t allow this, in which case, you’ll need to start the legal name change process by filing a petition for a name change.
Regardless of whether your divorce is finalized, if you’d like to change your name to something other than your maiden or former name, you’ll be required to start the formal legal name change process.
A few states even allow you to change your name by simply using your new name on all documentation going forward. However, this method is not recommended because it only works in a few states and can also make it difficult to change your name on federal identification documents such as your passport.
How Much it Costs
The cost of your name change after a divorce depends on whether you have a divorce decree with a name change provision.
Without a divorce decree, you’ll have to pay an additional filing fee to the court which ranges from $150 to $436, depending on the state.
For now, let’s assume you have a divorce decree and add up the fees. The first fee you’ll have to pay is for the three certified copies of your divorce decree. Each copy will run about $15, which comes out to $45.
How much you pay to change your name on your driver’s license varies by state but is usually less than $50.
Changing your name with the Social Security Administration (SSA) is free. But the fee for changing the name listed on your passport can range from $0 to $165 depending on when the passport was issued.
You’ll also likely have to pay other small costs including postage expenses, notarization fees, and charges from your bank for new checks.
When it’s all said and done, expect to pay between $50 and $250 to change your name after a divorce.
If you also need to file a name change petition, expect an additional fee between $159 and $436 depending on where you live.
Changing Your Name with a Divorce Decree
Once you have a divorce decree with a name change provision, you have legal evidence of your name change which you can use to start changing your name.
To start the process, you’ll need at least three certified copies of your divorce decree. For these copies, contact the court that issued your divorce decree.
Remember that the federal and state agencies you’ll need to change your name with will only accept certified copies—photocopies aren’t good enough.
With three certified copies of your divorce decree in hand, your next step is to change your name with:
- Your state’s DMV
- The Social Security Administration
- The US Passport Agency
You should start with these agencies but you’ll also need to change your name on your subscriptions, legal documents, bank accounts, and more.
Documents Needed to Change Your Last Name After Divorce
To change your name on your Social Security card, you’ll need:
- A certified copy of your divorce decree.
- An identity document in your prior name IF your divorce decree doesn’t provide enough information for the SSA to identify you in their records.
- A driver’s license, state-issued ID, or U.S. Passport.
Additionally, if your divorce finalized more than two years ago and you’re just now getting to changing your name, you may be asked to provide documents that prove your identity with both your new legal name and your prior name.
To change your name on your passport, you’ll need:
- Your most recent United States passport.
- Form DS-5504 or Form DS-82, depending on the date your passport was issued.
- Two color photos
- A certified copy of your divorce decree
To change your name on your Driver’s License, the process will vary by state.
As an example, in Pennsylvania, you’ll need to complete the appropriate driver’s license application and provide your divorce decree as proof of your legal name change.
After the Divorce Name Change
After you’ve completed your name change with the SSA, DMV, and Passport agency, you still have several places, people, and organizations to notify. These places, people, and organizations include:
- Insurance providers
- Utility providers
- Doctors, therapists, and/or dentists
- Professional organizations and/or unions
- Your employer
- The state tax authority
- Financial institutions (banks, credit cards, etc.)
- Membership and subscription providers
- The IRS
- The post office
- Voter registration
It’s also a good idea to ensure your new name matches your name on any legal documents such as vehicle titles, trusts, your will, and property deeds.
When can you change your last name after divorce?
As long as your divorce decree includes a provision for your name change, you can change your name as soon as your divorce is finalized.
If your divorce decree doesn’t include a name change provision, you can request to have it amended or file a name change petition whenever you like.
How much does it cost to change your last name after divorce?
The cost of changing your last name after divorce varies depending on your location and situation. For a full breakdown of the typical fees, click here.
How long do I have to change my name after divorce?
You can change your name at any time after your divorce has been finalized.
That said, the longer you wait, the more documentation you’ll be required to provide when you change your name on your certain identification documents.
Is it illegal to keep your married name after divorce?
It is not illegal to keep your married name after you’ve been divorced.
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Change Your Name After Divorce
At Update My Name, we can help you change your name after a divorce conveniently and quickly so you can get on with your life. All you have to do is fill out a concise questionnaire, receive the completed forms, then sign and submit those forms to make it official.