Resuming the Use of Your Maiden Name in a Divorce
In most divorce cases the wife has the option of having language inserted in the divorce decree for her to resume the use of her maiden name. This is generally done so that she does not have to go through the Probate Court to do this, which is the normal procedure for changing one’s name. Ultimately, it is up to the particular judge in your divorce case whether they will order this or not.
If you have no minor children of the marriage, and you are just resuming the use of a prior name, most judges will not have a problem with ordering this in your divorce decree. However, in certain situations, the divorce court might not want to allow you to return to your maiden name through the divorce process and force you to go through the Probate Court if you want to change your name. Such circumstances may be if you have minor children of the marriage and are changing your name to a last name that is different from them, some judges may not feel that is in the best interest of the children and not allow this to be put in the divorce decree. This does not mean that you cannot go back to your maiden name. It just means that the divorce judge is not going to add that language in your divorce decree. You can still go through the Probate Court to change your name, and they will usually be more likely to do so.
If the divorce court does order in the divorce decree that you resume your maiden name, then you can show this order when you change your name on your driver’s license, social security card, and other such places where your name is usually changed. You will just need your divorce decree and this should suffice. Similarly, if you go through the Probate Court and obtain an order changing your name, you can just show this at the appropriate places to have them alter your name on your identification cards.
If the court does not order in the divorce decree for you to resume the use of your maiden name, then you must file a Petition to Change Your Name with the Probate Court just like anyone else that wants to change his/her name. If you are returning to your maiden name, this will usually not be an issue with the probate judge. If you are changing to a new name that you have never had before, then as long as the name is not something obscene or extremely outrageous, then you will usually not have any issues.
When an adult files to change his/her name in the Probate Court of the county you live in, it is not necessary for you to have an attorney file it for you. However, you can hire one if you so wish. If you are trying to change the name of a minor child, then it is usually required that an attorney file the petition. All name change applications require a hearing and include a background check, which you must authorize in your filings. In adult filings, you will also need documentation such as an Alabama driver’s license or other photo ID, birth certificate, supporting marriage or divorce documents, and proof of residency in the county you are filing in.
To get the process started through the Probate Court, a name change petition must be filed and the filing fee paid. Every county has a different fee for this, usually ranging from $20 to $50 or more. You will have to go to a hearing, but in the case of most simple adult petitions it is usually granted if all paperwork is filled out properly and there are no unusual issues in your case. If you would like us to file your petition for you and go with you to the hearing, then give us a call today and we will be happy to speak to you about your case.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, probate, and real estate closings on this website. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply feedback. We appreciate our readers & love to hear from you!