The Name Change

The Name Change by Joelle PerezOften times in my mediation practice I get asked the question: How do I change my last name?

Many people are under the misconception that as soon as they sign the divorce papers, they can legally change their last name back to their maiden name — but that’s not true. The changing of your last name requires a signed order by the judge assigned to your case.

When your uncontested divorce packet gets submitted to the court, the proposed judgment of divorce submitted by your attorney/mediator should include a provision stating that the party may resume use of their prior name. Once the judge signs the judgment of divorce, the party wishing to change their name first needs to obtain a certified copy of the judgment of divorce from the County Clerk’s office. Usually the attorney/mediator handling your case will obtain that for you; but if not, either party may go to the County Clerk’s office, with proper identification, to obtain a certified copy of the judgment.

Once you have a certified copy of the judgment of divorce (this document will have a raised seal), you may bring that original document to your local Social Security office. Once your name is changed on your Social Security card, you can then change your driver’s license and passport. The next step would be to change the name on your bank accounts, insurance, cell phone account, utility company accounts, credit card accounts, and any other memberships or accounts that you may have. While some utility companies and credit card companies require documentation to effectuate a name change, not all do. A quick phone call can confirm whether the change can be done with or without documentation.

What do I need to bring to the appointment at the Social Security office in addition to the certified copy of my judgment of divorce?

For a full list of documents, click here.

What if I don’t want to change my name back?

There is no requirement to change your name back following divorce. Some clients want to keep the same last name as their children and may do so if they wish.

For any questions regarding changing your name following divorce, or to discuss what your judgment of divorce should look like, contact me.

Joelle A. Perez, Esq.
Attorney & Divorce Mediator
P: (631) 897-2066

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