For many women who are getting married, it’s traditional for them to take on the last name of their partner, although it’s not required by law. But when it’s time for a divorce, a woman may want to go back to her maiden name. While there is no legal prohibition that prevents you from keeping the last name of your spouse, and some people choose to do so for any number of reasons, a woman can also legally change her name as a part of the divorce process, or any time afterwards.
Here are some reasons why you might consider changing your name after a divorce, how to get started with the legal process of changing your name in Washington, and how you can get help with all of your legal questions about divorce today.
Why You Should Consider Changing Your Name
There are many arguments to be made for why you should or shouldn’t change your name as part of a divorce. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision, but there’s one major reason to consider a name change: it’s a chance to reclaim your identity.
When you get a divorce, starting a new life allows you to state your independence, as well as decide who you are and want to be, by choosing your own name. Some women find a name change to be a means of achieving or renewing a positive sense of self-identity after a marriage ends. Others use it as a way of creating a clean break from the relationship, choosing an entirely new last name to avoid association with a former spouse.
If domestic violence was a part of your reason for divorcing, you may also file to have your name change kept confidential to protect yourself or your children. An attorney can help you with this part of the process to ensure that you and your family remain safe.
How to Change Your Name as Part of a Divorce
The simplest way to change your name is to include the request as part of your petition for divorce. Your attorney can help you fill out the right paperwork, and the name change will be included in your final divorce decree. It’s that easy.
If you wait until after the divorce is complete, there are some extra steps you’ll need to follow. The exact procedures and forms may vary based on your county of residence. In King County, you’ll need to do the following:
- Complete a Petition for Name Change form
- File your form with the clerk of the King County District Court
- Pay a fee ($172 as of July 2017, but check with the King County website for current prices)
- Wait for a hearing, where a judge will sign and approve your petition
After your petition has been approved, you will receive a certified copy of the order that officially changes your name, and you may purchase more certified copies for an additional fee.
Once you have your certified order confirming that your name change has been recorded by the court, you can begin the process of converting all of your important documents to your new name. This may include your driver’s license or state identification card, passport, birth certificate, social security card, bank accounts and credit cards, and property titles.
It’s highly recommended that you create a list of places, institutions, organizations, and documents that may require your attention for a name change, or use our name change checklist to get you started.
Legal Help for Your Divorce
Whether you decide to change your name as part of the divorce or afterwards is up to you. Regardless of what you choose, the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny is here to help you with all of your legal questions before, during, and after the divorce process.
To arrange a private consultation with one of our experienced family law professionals at our Bellevue location, call us by phone, or use the contact form to send an email today.