How to Decide Between Keeping Your Married Name or Choosing Your Birth Name
May 12, 2023 at 7:00 PM
by Amanda
How to Decide Between Keeping Your Married Name or Choosing Your Birth Name
  • Keeping Your Married Name

For many people who have been married with one surname for an extended period of time, keeping the married name might seem like the easier option. After all, changing your surname involves lots of paperwork - and a trip to the Secretary of State to get a new license. Additionally, if you have children, they probably have their father’s last name. This creates an additional complication as to whether or not you keep the same name as them following the divorce. It is important to consider how this decision will affect them as well as yourself before making any final decisions about your own surname.

  • Choosing Your Birth Name

On the other hand, choosing your pre-marriage name again is a way of declaring independence from your marriage and taking back control over your life and identity. A new start is often desired by people who are in the midst of divorce proceedings and selecting a new last name can be an empowering act in reclaiming oneself after a significant life change such as a divorce. Going back to using one's birth name can feel like freedom.

  • What Society Thinks Does Not Matter and No One Can Make You Change Your Name

It is important to note that whatever you decide regarding your last name following divorce proceedings has no bearing on what society thinks of you or how much respect they give you regardless of which path you choose—whether it is keeping your married surname or returning to using your birth name again. Ultimately it comes down to what makes sense for you; you should not be judged for choosing one or the other. Many children have different last names than their mother and you won’t be judged for it the way you might have been 40 years ago. Your soon-to-be-ex cannot force you to change your name or "take his name back from you".

  • You Do Not Have to Change Your Name When You Get Married

There is no rule or law that says a person has to take the name of the husband when you get married. I did not because I did not want to go through the hassle of getting new documents. Its really time consuming. But yes, I have been told this repeatedly by people that they thought it was the law I had to take his name. My thought is always that I am not owned by my husband (but I am probably owned by my cats)

Warning: you have to decide as a process of your divorce. Otherwise, you may have to go through a name change.

When deciding between keeping your married name or choosing your birth name after a divorce, there are many factors that come into play depending on individual circumstances such as having children involved in this process or wanting to make documentation more consistent across various forms of identification such as passports and driver’s licenses.

If you're ready to move forward (and possibly change your name) I would love to see if I am the right lawyer to help you. Reach out to my office through my website or call me.