How to Decide Between Keeping Your Married Name or Choosing Your Birth Name

May 12, 2023

Deciding whether to keep your married name or return to your birth name after divorce is a personal choice with no right or wrong answer. The person who changed their name cannot be forced to change it to their former name because the name is not property that can be taken back. Let’s explore some common considerations:

Keeping Your Married Name


  • Convenience: If you’ve used your married name for a long time, it might feel easier to keep it. Changing it involves paperwork and updating various documents.
  • Children’s Last Name: If your children share your married name, keeping it might feel like a way to maintain a sense of family identity. If you children have another last name, you might also choose that name too.
  • Professional Recognition: If you’ve established a career under your married name, changing it might disrupt professional relationships or recognition.

Returning to Your Birth or Former Name


  • Fresh Start: Reclaiming your maiden name can symbolize a new beginning and a break from your past marriage.
  • Independence: It’s a way to reassert your identity and take control of your life.
  • Emotional Healing: For some, shedding the married name can be a cathartic step in the healing process.

It’s Your Choice, Not Society’s

Despite outdated traditions, there’s no legal or social obligation to change your name after divorce. It’s a personal decision based on what feels right for YOU. If you are worries schools, teachers and coaches might look down on you for having a different name than you children, don’t. Most humans wo work with children know very well that adults will have different last names than children and do not judge you for it. They do not know if you are divorced, if you are raising some one else’s child, if you adopted an older child who did not change their name or what. It is also none of their business why your name might be different than your child’s.

A Word on Marriage and Names

Contrary to popular belief, you never had to change your name when you got married. It’s always been your choice!

Important Note: In Illinois, you must decide on your name during the divorce process. If you don’t address it then, you’ll need to go through a separate legal name change later. A name change without a divorce is expensive.

Need Guidance on Your Divorce?

Whether you’re unsure about your name change or have other questions about divorce in Illinois, I can help. 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.