How You Can Reclaim Your Maiden Name After a Divorce

Moving Forward as Your Own Person with Your Own Name

After your assets are divided, child custody has been decided, and the divorce is finalized, the reality of no longer being married can start sinking in. While this presents a potentially liberating opportunity to start anew, certain elements from your past relationship may be holding you back, like keeping your spouse’s last name.

Changing Your Name After Divorce

The process of reclaiming your maiden name will vary slightly depending on your divorce decree and the court that issued it. In some cases, a decree may include a provision for a name change. If this is the case for you, your divorce decree serves as acceptable legal proof of a changed name that you can use to formally revert back to your former name. You may only reclaim a name you previously held. The decree does not provide any right to claim a name that is entirely new.

If a provision for a change was not included in your divorce decree, you will have to take a few additional steps. You may contact the court responsible for your divorce and ask them to amend the document to include such a provision. However, it’s important to realize that not all New York courts will permit amendments to the document. If your decree neglected to include a provision and your court cannot adjust your document to account for a change of name, you can proceed with a Petition for Name Change.

The Process

A divorce decree offers the necessary documentation to revert to your maiden name, but it does not account for the entire process. It is up to you to notify the necessary government agencies, including the Social Security Office and Department of Motor Vehicles.

You should file form SS-5 either in person or by mail to the Social Security Office while also providing a copy of an ID, proof of age, and divorce decree. Once approved, you will receive certification that Social Security approved your change and a new Social Security card will be mailed to you in about six weeks.

You can take the certificate showing Social Security’s approval to the DMV to request a new driver’s license with your maiden name on it. The new copy will be mailed to you, also typically in about six weeks.

After correcting these documents, it’s important to notify other institutions, including:

  • The post office
  • Your bank(s) and creditor(s)
  • Your insurance agent and company
  • Your doctors
  • Your child’s school

Trust Attorney Michael O. King, Jr. to guide you through your divorce and help you rebuild your life as an individual. For more information on how Empire Law can help, contact us online or by phone at 914-752-5333.