Changing Your Name Back After Divorce
A step-by-step process and why it isn’t as big of a deal as you think
By Jackie Pilossoph for ESME
I’ll never forget the day I decided to change my name back to my maiden name. I had been divorced for four years, and although for a long time I thought the idea of having my old name back was extremely appealing, the process seemed extensive, time-consuming, and intimidating. In other words, why bother?
My decision to go back to Pilossoph all started when one of my girlfriends, who had been officially divorced for only a couple of months, came bursting into my house, very excited to show me her new driver’s license with her maiden name on it.
She seemed really happy about it, and I detected an air of independence, newfound confidence, and hope in her demeanor.
“Wow, I bet that was kind of a pain to change, huh?” I asked.
“Actually, I can’t believe how easy it was,” she said.
That’s all I needed to hear. The next day I took action, and within a day or two I had my old name back.
The process of changing your name back can seem daunting, arduous, and complicated, but the fact is I had the same experience as my girlfriend and found it not only quick and easy but also (I have to say) almost fun, due to the incredibly liberating and productive feelings I was experiencing.
I will try to offer a step-by-step process for changing your name back after a divorce, but remember, I can talk only about how it is done in Illinois. Other states may have a different process, but I bet they are similar.
First of all, if your divorce is not finalized yet, make sure you tell your divorce attorney that you want the option of changing your name back in your divorce decree. Why is this important? Because legally (in the state of Illinois) you have to have permission from the court (and your ex) to change your name back. The clause that you have that right to do so needs to be stated in the decree.
I would think most attorneys know to include this clause, but you’d be surprised at how many divorce decrees don’t. If yours doesn’t, it’s up to you to ask your attorney to add the clause. Furthermore, your ex has to sign off on it, and if he is bitter or angry, he may not readily do so, all of which could lead to more legal action, requiring more time and attorney’s fees. Crazy! You can avoid all this if you tell your attorney you want the option of changing your name back.
Once you have the decree that states you have the right to change your name back, take it to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and get a new license. You must also show the clerk your marriage certificate, which offers proof you changed your name to your married name in the first place. So basically you need two things. That’s it! Sure, you may have to sit there and wait, but there is nothing else to do. You don’t have to take any driving tests, vision tests, etc. You do have to have a new photo taken, but you walk out with a new license that has your old name on it! Done!
The next stop is the Social Security office. You walk in with three things: your new driver’s license, your divorce decree, and your marriage certificate. Again, you may have a wait, but you walk out with a new Social Security card with your old name on it!
Now it’s time to go to the bank to change all your bank accounts…(Click here to read the rest of the article, published on ESME.)
Like this article? Check out my blog post, “7 Reasons You Should Never Lose Hope In Dating After Divorce”