In many ways, a divorce consists of a series of decisions about what to keep in your life and what to give up: do I get to keep the house? Do I get to keep the dog? Do I get to keep the car? However, for women, there is an added question as they go through the divorce process: should I keep my married name?
Things to Consider Before Changing Your Name After a Divorce
Like most decisions in a divorce, whether or not to keep your husband’s surname is a very personal choice that will be different for different women. Here are a few considerations, however, that can help you make the best choice for your life and your situation:
- Is your name now part of your identity? For women who married earlier in life, or for women that have been married for decades, their last name may feel more “real” and familiar to them then their maiden name. In these cases, don’t feel that it is bad or odd to keep your name after the divorce.
- Do you have children with the family name? If you have children who share the last name of you and your husband, you may feel the want or need to keep your married name to let your children know that you are still a family and are still tied to them.
- Do you want to break all connections with your ex and get a fresh start? For some, having a 100 percent clean start after a divorce is important, and carrying around the last name of a man you no longer wish to associate with can be a barrier to moving on with your life. In this case, reclaiming your maiden name may be the right choice for you.
- Do you want to bypass some paperwork? Currently, it is easier to retain your married name than to change it back to your maiden name. To change your name, you must submit forms for your Social Security card, taxes, your United States Passport, United your Postal Service, and your driver's license.
- Will it affect your career? Some women in certain professions may be negatively affected by a surname change mid-career. Your name may be familiar to customers, be part of a business, or be attached to papers or publications.
- Which name do you like better? In the end, changing your name is a choice mostly based in emotions – and unlike many decisions in a divorce, the choice is usually all yours. Pick what seems right in your heart, and don’t look back!
Have you decided to go through with changing your name? If so, you'll find our name change checklist helpful.