by Hello Divorce Team
Divorce Process, Divorce Planning, Divorce in California, Name Change
Marriage is a big step, and plenty of people decide to mark the occasion by changing their names. In the United States, up to 30% of women retain their names after marriage. Most do not. And plenty of men change their names, too. But what happens after a divorce?
Marriage is a big step, and plenty of people decide to mark the occasion by changing their names. In the United States, up to 30% of women retain their names after marriage. Most do not. And plenty of men change their names, too.
But what happens after a divorce?
Just as you might want to change your name to mark your changing status as a married person, you might also like to change it due to a divorce.
If you’re changing your name back to a previous version of a legal name, it’s a relatively easy switch. If you want to move to something new and different, the process is a little more complicated, but it’s still very possible.
Keep reading to find out how name changes work and how to make this happen.
3 ways to change your name during or after a divorce
Your name is one of the first things people know about you, and for many people, it's a deep sign of identity and belonging. If you'd like to change your name along with your marital status, three options exist.
To change your name, you can do any of the following:
- Change your name as part of your divorce case. If you'd like to return to a formal legal name (like your maiden name), you can take care of this step quickly and easily within the divorce process. Many of the forms you must use to end your marriage include checkboxes involving a name alteration.
- Change your name after your divorce is final. Some people don't change their names during the divorce, but they regret the decision later. You can file an additional form months (or even years) later with the court that processed your divorce. This process only works if you're reverting to a former legal name.
- Work within the court system. If you’d like your name to change to something new and different, you can start an entirely different court process, fill out forms, and change your name at any time. You’re not required to tie this process to your divorce.
How to request your name change during your divorce
Divorces involve plenty of paperwork and time, especially in California. When you're nearing the end of the process, you'll turn in one last set of forms for the judge. Two of them include spaces for name changes.
Those forms include the following:
- Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation(form FL-170): Item 12 on this form allows you to specify a return to a former legal name.
- Judgment (form FL-180): Write your former legal name on Item 4(f).
Once the judge signs the Judgment form, you have legal proof of a name change. You should request certified copies, so you can share the news with other entities (like the DMV). Prepare to pay $40 per certified copy.
How to finalize your name change after the divorce
Once your divorce is final, and all the paperwork is signed, you've missed one easy way to revert to a former legal name. But you can still use your divorce as an easy way to change your name, even if months or years have passed since the document became official.
Follow these simple steps:
- Find your divorce paperwork. You'll need your case number and the location of your divorce court to get started.
- Fill out a form. The Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (form FL-395) is required to change your name. Fill it out, and make one copy of it.
- File the form. You must work with the court that certified your divorce. You can head to the court in person, or you can file the documents by mail.
- Pay a fee (maybe). If you paid fees as part of your divorce, you may not owe anything more. Otherwise, you may need to pay between $435 and $450.
You'll still need certified copies of your paperwork. Prepare to pay $40 per certified copy.
How to change your name to something new
If you're hoping to change your name to a version you've never used before, you can't tie this to your divorce. Instead, you'll follow a legal process to change the name legally.
The process involves several steps: filing a petition, publishing a notice, sitting through a hearing, and gaining a decree to get your new name. It typically takes three months from start to finish.
Several forms are required, such as these:
- Petition for Change of Name (form NC-100)
- Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (form NC-110)
- Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (form NC-120)
- Civil Case Cover Sheet (form CM-010) (some courts do not require this form)
- Decree Changing Name Form (form NC-130) (fill out the boxes at the top and Item 3)
You must pay a filing fee of $435 to $450. If you can’t pay that fee, you can ask the clerk to waive it for you. Officials may need time to process your request.
With your paperwork filed, you must publish a notice in the newspaper once per week for at least four weeks before the hearing begins. This notification allows people who know you (or to whom you owe money) to understand what’s happening with your legal name.
At the end of your hearing, your judge may change your name and give you the paperwork that proves it. You may need more than one copy, but be prepared to pay $40 for each one.
How much will it cost?
If you revert to your former legal name during or after your divorce, you may not have other fees to pay (aside from those you paid during the divorce process).
If you didn't pay fees during your divorce, or you're hoping to change your name to something original, prepare for a filing fee that ranges from $435 to $450.
You'll likely need multiple copies of your paperwork, and each one costs about $40.
What's the easiest way to change your name?
The quickest and easiest way to change your name is to revert to a formal legal version during your divorce. You're already paying associated fees, and you won't even need different forms. If a former name will work for you, make the switch during your divorce.
What to do after your name change
Your name is part of your legal profile. You'll need to notify at least three agencies that you have a new name, so you can do things like renew your driver's license and collect Social Security benefits.
These three agencies must hear from you:
1. U.S. Social Security Administration
You must complete an Application for a Social Security Card and attach documents from the court about your name. Find the office nearest you, and file the paperwork there. The team will send you a new card in the mail in a few weeks.
2. California Department of Motor Vehicles
You must tell this agency about your new name, so you can appropriately renew your driver's license, register your car, and more. Visit the office near you and bring along your paperwork.
3. California Department of Public Health
Mail the documents, along with a $23 fee to:
California Department of Public Health
Vital Records - M.S. 5103
P.O. Box 997410
Sacramento, CA 95899-7410
Take charge of your name
While the process involves several steps you must get right, you can effectively change your name after a divorce in California. By getting the proper documents in order, you can simplify the process for yourself.
Changing your name can make you feel a sense of some control in the unusual days after your divorce. Don't be afraid to have people call you what you want in your new life.
ReferencesWhy Women Do or Don't Change Their Names When They Get Married. (July 2022). CNN.
Change Your Name in Your Divorce Case. Judicial Branch of California.
Change Your Legal Name. Judicial Branch of California.
Start the Name Change Process. Judicial Branch of California.
Publish Form NC-120 in the Newspaper. Judicial Branch of California.
Get Your Name Change Decree. Judicial Branch of California.
Update Your Identity Documents. Judicial Branch of California.
How Do I Change or Correct My Name on My Social Security Number Card? (November 2022). Social Security Administration.
Amending a Birth Certificate After a Court Order Name Change. (January 2018). California Department of Public Health.
Fill out Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (form FL-395). This asks the court to change your name back to a former name. Make one copy of the form. Self-address an envelope and add postage unless you want to come back to court to pick it up.How much does it cost to change your name in California after divorce? ›
Basic steps to change a name
You pay a $435-$450 filing fee. If you can't afford the fee, you can ask the court to waive it. The clerk will give you a date when a judge will make a decision.
- Marriage Certificate.
- Birth Certificate.
- Decree Absolute.
- Signed declaration stating that you are switching back to your Maiden name 'for all purposes. '
It typically takes the courts two to four weeks to process your request. If the courts finalize your divorce and receive an order to restore your maiden name, you can return to your former name without a hitch. If your divorce is not yet final, you can still ask to restore your former name.Do you have to go to court for a name change in California? ›
In California, adults can change their name without going to court. You can just start using your new name. But, sometimes it's better to get your name changed by a court. Federal agencies and many government agencies, like DMV, will not accept your new name without a court order.How hard is it to legally change your name in California? ›
In California, you can ask for a court order to change your legal name. To do this, you file a petition with the court and publish a notice in a newspaper. Then, you'll either have a court date (a hearing) where a judge will make a decision, or the judge may make a decision without a hearing.How long does it take to legally change your name in California? ›
How long does it take to legally change your name in California? The process takes at least 6 weeks, but usually 2-3 months and could be even longer depending on the availability and caseload of the court and the publishing schedule of the newspaper.How do I get my ex wife to drop my last name? ›
However, no matter your reason for wanting the change, there is no legal obligation for your ex to go back to her maiden name. With essentially no legal means to require your ex to change her last name, your best option is to simply get over it and try to understand why she wants to keep it.Why would a divorced woman keep her married name? ›
Many women choose to hold onto their married name after a divorce because of their children. Sharing the same last name can make women feel more connected to their children. It can also provide a sense of stability for younger children who will not understand why their mother has a different last name.Can you still use Mrs when divorced? ›
After a divorce, a woman might keep her married name. If this is the case, then you can either use "Mrs." or "Ms." to address the guest and use her first name. If she is using her maiden name, then use "Ms." along with her first name and maiden name.
You can change your name at any point in time after your divorce: one year later, five years later, 20 years later. It's up to you. As explained above, you'll face less paperwork and hassle if the name change is part of your divorce decree.How hard is it to change your name? ›
In some states you have to appear at a brief court hearing before a judge to have your name change approved. It can take several weeks or months to receive your certificate of name change, again depending on the state. You may have to pay an additional fee for a certified copy of the name change.How do I get a certified copy of my name change in California? ›
Get certified copy of your Decree from court clerk
The clerk can get you a certified copy. This means the clerk adds an official stamp to your Decree that says the copy is true copy of the original. Depending on how many legal ID documents you want to update, you can ask for more than one certified Decree.
You will need to fill out these forms:
Petition for Change of Name (form NC-100) Name and Information about the Person Whose Name is to be Changed (form NC-110) (and attach it to the NC-100) Order to Show Cause—Change of Name (form NC-120) Civil Case Cover Sheet (form CM-010) (some courts do not require this form)
- Petition for Change of Name (form NC-100)
- Name and Information about the Person Whose Name is to be Changed (form NC-110)
- Order to Show Cause—Change of Name (form NC-120)
- Civil Case Cover Sheet (form CM-010)
- Decree Changing Name Form (form NC-130)
Fill out the Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5) (PDF) and bring it to a local office along with unexpired identification and proof of name change, such as a marriage or divorce document, adoption decree, amended or corrected birth certificate, court order with the name change, or tribal document.Do you need a reason to change your name? ›
Why you might want to change your name. You don't need to have any kind of valid reason to change your name, so long as it is not for any fraudulent purpose, such as avoiding paying a debt or fulfilling an obligation — you are free to change your name at any time.What state is the easiest to change your name? ›
Easiest States To Change Your Name
Because of Full Service, by EZ Name Change, California, Georgia and Illinois are considered among the easiest and surest ways to get a name legally changed.
List the new middle or last name you want on your marriage license application. Turn in your application at the County's Registrar's Office. The clerk will issue the license. It is good for 90 days.Can I use my passport with my maiden name? ›
Your passport can legally display your former name, such as a maiden name or any name before marriage. Marriage doesn't require you to get a new passport with your spouse's surname. You can continue using your passport with your maiden name as ID until it expires.
In California, you can ask the court for an order recognizing your gender change and changing your legal name. To do this, you file a petition with the court and get a decree. The process generally takes up to 2 months.How long does my name take to change? ›
The whole process of updating your records with all record holders usually takes 3–8 weeks, depending on how promptly you do it.Is a divorced person single? ›
The term “married” encompasses all married people, including those separated from their spouses. “Unmarried” includes those who are single (never married), divorced, or widowed.What happens to a woman's last name after divorce? ›
No. Both spouses are entitled to keep their married names after divorce. If you took your spouse's name, you may wish to reclaim your “maiden name,” after divorce, but your spouse cannot force you to do this.How do last names work after divorce? ›
Your divorce decree serves as your legal name change document. It will allow you to go back to your former/maiden name and you'll use it throughout the entire name change after divorce process. Every divorce is different, but in general, a divorce decree is issued by the court as a final summary of your divorce.Should a woman go back to her maiden name after divorce? ›
Even if you have children with your ex, if keeping your ex's surname causes feelings of anger, resentment, or frustration to arise, you should absolutely change it. Many people find that reclaiming their birth name helps them to better reclaim their identity as a single individual.Why does my wife want to keep her last name? ›
For some women, keeping their surname is preserving the personal and familial identity they have always had, Carr said. “That could be tied to their parents, tied to their ethnic or racial heritage – names are very meaningful.”What is it called when a woman takes her husband's last name? ›
“Coverture is a legal formation that held that no female person had a legal identity,” explains Allgor.What do I call myself after divorce? ›
You can use any title you wish. You might like to be called 'Mrs. ' even after divorce, or you may prefer 'Ms' or 'Miss'. If you don't change your surname, you don't need to complete any legal documentation to change your title - just start using it.Can ex wife keep my last name? ›
After all, both spouses are entitled to keep their married names after they divorce. No one can force you or your ex-spouse to change it.
Typically, state laws allow a woman to include a name change in the final decree of divorce if she wishes, but the choice is limited to surnames she has used in the past. In Texas, for example, a wife divorcing her second husband could choose to resume the use of her maiden surname or that of her first husband.How do I change my name back to my maiden name in California? ›
After your divorce
Fill out Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (form FL-395). This asks the court to change your name back to a former name. Make one copy of the form. Self-address an envelope and add postage unless you want to come back to court to pick it up.
- Social Security card.
- Driver's license, car title, and registration.
- Property titles.
- Post Office and PO Box.
- Checking accounts (including checks and ATM card)
- Savings accounts, CDs, and money market accounts.
- Credit cards.
Once you complete your Response, you need to file it with the court and pay a filing fee of $435-$450. If you are unable to afford the fee, you can ask the court for a fee waiver.Does changing your name affect your credit score? ›
A name change won't affect your credit history. Don't be concerned; your credit history is tied to your Social Security number, which hasn't changed. In other words, if you have an excellent credit score, changing your name shouldn't affect it unless you've done things like make a late payment.Does changing your name cause problems? ›
Consequences to Changing Your Name
There can be professional consequences that can be problematic. For instance, all of your bank accounts and credit cards will need to be updated, as well as your driver's license and passport, which means you'll have a lot of paperwork to fill out.
- tax record (e.g. letter from HMRC, Child Benefit Office, or other tax authority)
- employment record (e.g. payslip or official letter from employer)
- educational record (e.g. school report)
- letter from central, regional, or local government department (e.g. council tax bill)
Call the Customer Service Unit at (916) 445-2684. You can also get the form from the County Recorder or County Health Department in any California county.How do I publish my name change in California? ›
- Fill out a new Order to Show Cause (form NC-120). ...
- Write "Amended" right before the title of the form "Order to Show Cause—Change of name"
- Make 2 copies of your form.
- File the original plus 2 copies with the court clerk.
- If there's enough time to publish, you'll likely get the same court date.
If you are requesting a name change because of a reason or circumstance listed in California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) § 1277 (b)(2), and are enrolled in the Safe at Home program, you can apply for a confidential name change. Your court documents will not show the new name, to protect you from discovery.
Basic steps to change a name
You pay a $435-$450 filing fee. If you can't afford the fee, you can ask the court to waive it.
When you file your name change petition forms, you'll have to pay the California state Filing fee. The cost to file name change forms in California is $435.What is NC 120 form? ›
If you received an Order to Show Cause—Change of Name (form NC-120) from your child's other parent, it means that they are asking the court to change your child's name. The court set a date to hear from both sides (a hearing) before making a decision.Can I change my last name online in California? ›
Name change in California outside of a marriage or divorce. If you are changing your name separate from a marriage or divorce, you will need to petition the court to change your name. This process can take up to three months after you submit your paperwork. You can complete your forms online or download them.Can you change your name on your birth certificate in California? ›
To change a name on a California birth certificate, an amendment form as may be found on the California Department of Health website, must be submitted. The forms are generally very short and simple to fill out.How to change your identity? ›
- Do it consciously. ...
- Think about who you want to be. ...
- Intentionally start doing the actions. ...
- BE the new version of you. ...
- Reinforce it by appreciating yourself. ...
- When you falter, think about what this new version of you would do.
You will receive your new SSA card in the mail in approximately 10-14 business days, along with your documents if you mailed them in. Your Social Security number will not change.Can I change my name with Social Security by mail? ›
You'll need to fill out Form SS-5, the standard application for a Social Security card that you can download from the Social Security website. Mail the form or deliver it in person to your local Social Security office, along with original copies of documents proving your legal name change and your identity.Does your Social Security number change when you change your name? ›
If you legally change your name because of marriage, divorce, or court order or need to correct your name for other reasons, you must tell us. This way you can get a replacement Social Security number (SSN) card with your correct legal name. Visit Defining the legal Name for an SSN for more information.How long can you wait to change your name after marriage in California? ›
No, your marriage license doesn't expire so there is no deadline for a name change after marriage or time limit you must adhere to in order to be able to change your name after marriage.
It's a long process too, generally taking around three months, although, as some courts are busier, it could take even longer. The first step is to fill out all the proper California name change forms, which you can download on the California Courts website.How do I change my name on Social Security after divorce? ›
Fill out the Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5) (PDF) and bring it to a local office along with unexpired identification and proof of name change, such as a marriage or divorce document, adoption decree, amended or corrected birth certificate, court order with the name change, or tribal document.What are the disadvantages of changing name after marriage? ›
Con: The Paperwork
Once you decide to change your name, you'll need to update all of the important documents, including your social security card, tax forms, driver's license, credit cards, health insurance, and passport. In other words, expect a lot of forms and lines.
Can I hyphenate my last name without legally changing it? Not really. You can use a hyphenated last name in informal social settings (on social media, amongst friends, etc.) but you will need to use your legal name everywhere else (at work, on your personal accounts, when signing your name, etc.)What is the 10 year California divorce rule? ›
For marriages less than ten years, support will last half the length of the marriage. For marriages more than 10 years, there's no assumption about what's reasonable.Is California a 50 50 divorce state? ›
The community property rules and 50/50 split are the default rules for a California divorce. That does not mean the parties are bound by those rules. Parties can sign a prenuptial agreement before the marriage that restricts which property and income do or will belong to each party.Who pays for a divorce in California? ›
The judge can order your spouse or the other parent to pay for all or part of the costs. Even if you have some money to pay for a lawyer, if the other person has a lot more money, the court can order them to help pay some of your fees.How to change my last name? ›
- File for Your Marriage Certificate. ...
- Obtain Certified Copies. ...
- Update Your Social Security Card. ...
- Get a New Driver's License or I.D. ...
- Update Your Passport. ...
- Update Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. ...
- Change Your Name on Your Bank Account. ...
- Change Your Name on Your Credit Cards.
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