Many people have asked me for divorce advice about changing your name back after divorce. Should I do it? Should I keep my married name? What’s the right thing to do?
Let me answer it by saying, if you’re a woman, you’re born with a name, and you have that name your whole life. It’s all you know. It’s your mom and dad’s name, and your sister’s and brother’s and some of your cousin’s names. It’s your grandparents name.
And then one day, you get married and you change that name because you are taking your new husband’s name. It’s exciting and fun and new, and you get to buy glasses and towels with your new initials on them! And you go on your honeymoon, and at the hotel they call you Mrs. So and So. It’s the best feeling.
I think that is so wonderful. I really do! Yet things sometime change. They change to the point where you and your husband end up divorced. AND, you still have your new (or not so new) name. So, do you keep it? Or do you change it back to your maiden name?
Some people keep their married name forever, some change back, and some people change from husband number one to husband number two. (Not that I’m judging, I swear.)
I wanted to give my best attempt to answer the question “Now that I’m getting divorced, should I change my name back?”
Before I get into that, however, I want to give the best piece of advice I think I can offer. For anyone who is getting divorced, make sure that your divorce decree gives you the option of changing your name back to your maiden name.
I recently met two women who both told me they had been divorced for a long time (years.) Neither one changed their name back, and it wasn’t because they didn’t want to. They both stated that their attorneys didn’t put the option in their decrees. So, now they have to get an amendment to their divorce decree which means spending more money on attorney fees and a court appearance.
So, make sure it is in the divorce agreement. Most ex husbands don’t really care, in fact, I know a few who are extremely enthusiastic about having their ex go back to her dad’s name, either because they already have another Mrs. So and So lined up, or they just don’t want the woman they feel is milking them for every cent in court sharing their same name.
So, here are my thoughts on whether you should keep your married name for the rest of your life, or whether you go back to Ms. Maiden, which by the way, is a word I really dislike.
The definitions of “maiden” are 1) Young, unmarried woman,( which I’m not anymore), 2) Virgin, which I’m not going there 3) horse yet to win, meaning I’m a loser?! And the worst one of all 4) a guillotine, insinuating you are a criminal who should be executed because your marriage didn’t work out. Maiden also means “first” which makes sense.
The biggest thing I can tell women is that changing your name back or sticking with your married name is a personal choice and everyone is entitled to do whatever she wishes.
I don’t think it is wise when people say, “But I don’t want to have a name that’s different than my kids.” Know why? Because if your kids’ friends call you Mrs. So and So, you don’t have to correct a third grader and say, “I’m sorry, can you please call me Ms. Maiden?” That would be ridiculous. Just don’t say anything. Allow them to call you Mrs. So and So. What’s so bad about that? It’s like if you are Jewish and someone says “Merry Christmas.” Why correct them? Just accept the sentiment and move on. Just my opinion.
Another person might hate their ex so much, that all she wants to do is change her name back to get away from him, because she thinks it’s going to help her get over him. BAD IDEA. Don’t do it for that reason. Find other ways to deal with your hate and your bitterness. Changing your name back isn’t going to help.
If you do change your name back, do it for yourself. Do it for your profession. Or do it because YOU want that name back. I did it because I LOVE my name and I LOVE my father and I wanted his name back.
Incidentally, I know a lot of women who are still happily married who never changed their name in the first place, either because they liked it, or they wanted to remain with that name for their profession. I respect that. Always have.
But, I also respect those who want to keep their married name. If you just feel comfortable and this is who you were, and you wish to stay that way, than you have the right to keep it. No one should judge that.
Lastly, there are women who are just lazy about it, and don’t want to change back because they think it will take a ton of time. I feel I owe it to you to tell you, I just went through it and it was soooo not a big deal. Sure, it takes a little bit of time, but for the gratification and pride I feel having my name back, it was so worth it.
I do want to mention that a friend of mine who is divorced recently changed hers back, and it totally motivated me to follow suit. I don’t know why. I’d been divorced for awhile, but something just clicked when I saw that she changed hers back and it just felt right. It was the right time for me. I’m glad I waited, though, until it felt right.
In closing, just remember this. No matter what name you have, you are you, and your initials, your signature, and what name people refer to you as makes so little difference in the big picture. What does make a huge difference is the person you are, what’s in your core, what’s in your heart, and what you give to the world.
Sincerely (and legally)