Do I Have to Change My Name After Divorce?

One of the many questions you may have about divorce is: can I keep my married name? Here’s what you need to know, from the pros and cons of changing your name to how to do it.

Women traditionally take on their husband’s surname when they get married.

This raises a problem when you get a divorce. Should you keep your married name, or should you change it back to your birth name.

Here’s what you need to know.

Can I keep my married name after divorce?

You’re free to keep your married name after divorce.

In the divorce application you’ll be asked whether you would like to keep your married name or be known by your maiden name (the name you had before marriage) once the divorce is finalised. All you need to do is say that you would like to keep your married name.

This is a personal choice and entirely your decision. Your former husband can neither make you give up his name nor make you keep it.

Why you might want to keep your married name

There are many reasons why you may want to keep your married name.

If you have children, you may want to keep your married name so that you all share the same surname. You may feel that having a shared name is part of what binds you together as a family.

Or maybe you’ve been married for so long that everyone knows you by your married name. Giving it up can feel like losing a big part of your identity.

Alternatively, you may just prefer the sound of your married name.

In many cases, however, holding onto your married name is simply easier than having to change it again. The process can be time consuming, and potentially expensive.

Why you may want to change your name after divorce

Women who took their husband’s name often want to change back to their maiden name to reclaim their pre-marriage identity. Doing so can help you to break from the past and move on.

But there’s a more practical reason as to why you may want to change your name: to protect your credit rating.

If you keep your married name, your ex could take out joint credit agreements using your ‘family’ name. This could put you into debt and damage your credit score.

A weakened credit score is the last thing you need after getting divorced. You’ll be less likely to be approved for a mortgage, and you could struggle to access credit.

Changing back to your maiden name will help you to start building your personal credit score. This, in turn, will help you build your new life.

What if I want to revert to my maiden name?

You don't need to formally change your name through a deed poll if you'd like it back. You can simply start using it again.

You should contact important organisations to let them know that you wish to be known by your birth name. These organisations include the passport office, the DVLA for your driving licence, and bank accounts.

With most organisations, you will need to have several original documents to hand, including:

  • Your original marriage certificate
  • Your original birth certificate
  • Your final order

Changing your passport first is often a good idea as it is a legal document. Once changed, you can use it to confirm your identity when changing your name with other institutions.

If you’re missing some of the required documents

You may not have all the documents you need to change your name. This isn’t the end of the world.

If you can’t find some of the required documents, you have two options: either apply for replacement documents or change your name through deed poll.

The easiest option is to change your name by deed poll.

In the UK, you can change your name to whatever you want for any reason by using a deed poll. A deed poll is simply a document that makes your name change official.

The benefit of using a deed poll is that it’s accepted by all authorities, and you can change your name to whatever you want.

If you want to change your name by deed poll, a solicitor can draw up an application for you.

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