When you get married, it is customary to take your husband’s last name. In some cases, you may even choose to hyphenate your new and old names to form your new surname. If you later divorce, you may wish to return to using your original last name. If you want to return to the last name you had prior to getting married, you will need to know the steps to take to achieve this change.
Resumption of Pre-Marital Surname
North Carolina law states that a woman whose marriage is dissolved by divorce is allowed to change her last name back to her maiden name, the surname of a deceased prior husband, or the surname of a prior living husband if the woman has children with the same last name. The statute also addresses husbands who wish to change their surnames. The law states that a man “may change the surname he took upon marriage to his pre-marriage surname.” Those are the only circumstances in which a divorced person is allowed to request a name change as part of their divorce.
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Request a Name Change as Part of Your Divorce
The easiest and most efficient way to change your name back to your pre-marital name is to request a name change as part of your divorce. If you are the plaintiff, you should make the request as part of your complaint. If you are the defendant, you should make the request as part of your answer to the complaint.
In this case, the judge will review your request and will make your name change effective when your divorce is finalized. At that time, you will be able to stop using your married name and begin to reuse your original surname or maiden name. You will need a certified copy of the court judgment to prove your name change so you can request changes to your driver’s license, social security card, bank accounts, credit cards, and other items.
Can I Change My Name Back After the Divorce is Final?
If you failed to request a name change as part of your divorce, and your divorce is final, you are still allowed to change your name. There is a different process in place to change your name. However, you must still meet the legal guidelines for name changes. You must file a petition with the clerk in the county where you live or where your divorce was granted. You will be responsible for any filing fees and court costs associated with the request. The judge will review your request, and as long as you meet the requirements, the judge will grant the order.
Changing your name back to your maiden name or pre-marriage name is best accomplished during the divorce process. You will want to consider whether you wish to change your name before you file or respond to legal divorce filings. Divorce can be challenging, but we can make it easier and less stressful. Contact us today at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 for a consultation.
The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.
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