Changing Your Name Back After Divorce


The rules and procedures for changing your name back after divorce may vary slightly depending on what state you live in.

In New York State, for example, it is required that a statement is included in the Divorce judgment stating that either spouse may resume a former surname after a divorce. That is all that is required to resume a former surname. No additional judicial action or proceeding is required, just a sentence in the divorce judgment.

Correspondingly, a spouse is not REQUIRED to stop using the surname of a former spouse. It is an option. So, let’s say you were married to Donald Trump and now you are getting a divorce from him. You want to keep the Trump name. You can. He can’t force you to stop using the Trump last name. Unless there is a prenup that says in the event of the divorce you will resume your last name. Although, even with a prenup, I still don’t think he would have the authority to tell you what your name can be. It is a common law rule that a person can legally change their name so long as the rights of third parties, like creditors, are not interfered with. So in theory, any Joe Schmo can change their name to Trump, say. And any former spouse of Trump could keep the name Trump. Just as any former spouse can keep his or her former spouse’s name, or lose it, depending on what their desire is at the time.

But in a divorce, in New York, if you do decide to change your name, it has to be to a former last name. Even the last name of a former spouse (not the one you are divorcing) is okay. But it can’t be to a brand new name that nobody ever knew you had. To get a brand new name you would have to petition the court for a name change in a separate action.

The rules are a bit different when dealing with children. You can’t just change a child’s name just because you are divorced. You have to show that it is in the child’s best interest to have a new name, even if it is the hyphenated name of both parents.