Don’t forget to discuss with your lawyer before the final hearing if you want to be reinstated to a former name. This is the time to accomplish the name change with ease, and typically, without any additional costs! Procedures vary from court to court whether the name change can be submitted as part of the Final Decree or by way of a separate Court Order. Either way, it is easy, and the wife has the right to decide whether she wants to keep her married surname. No, husbands, you cannot require your ex to relinquish your surname. And wives cannot pick a new surname; they can only be reinstated to a maiden or former name.
If you decide months after the divorce that you want to go back to a former name, it may be too late to have the Domestic Relations Court enter the name change for you. In that event, one would have to file a new action through the Probate Court to accomplish the name change. That Probate action would likely take several months and add filing fees and more costs.
Also remember, if you do change your name, be sure to report the change to the Social Security Administration. Otherwise, your earnings may not be recorded properly and you may not receive all the benefits you are due. Not changing your name with Social Security can also delay your income tax refund. It’s easy to do this by making a trip to one of their local offices. It usually takes about two weeks to have the change verified and the new card issued. The form is available on the Agency’s website, by calling toll free 1-800-772-1213 and at local offices. To accomplish this you will need to fill out an application for a Social Security card (form SS-5). For more information about this, including the documentation you need to bring, click here.
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.