Absolutely. That is a question your uncontested divorce attorney should always ask while going through the no fault divorce process. If you get an uncontested divorce you have to submit a settlement agreement showing the court you both agree to the terms of the divorce. One of those terms can be that you want to go back to your maiden name. But it doesn’t just have to be your maiden name that you go back to after your divorce is finalized. Depending on your situation, you have a few options.
If you were married and divorced to someone else before your current marriage, you could request to go back to a previous married name. You could request to go back to your birth (maiden) name, or you could keep you current married name even after the divorce. If you request to keep your current married name, your soon-to-be ex-husband could technically object to you keeping his name, but if you have children together the court is unlikely to take his side. Often times divorced women will keep their ex-husband’s last name in order to have the same name as their children. Every situation is different. You just want to make sure in your divorce decree it states what your name will be after the divorce is finalized.
If you did not get your name change addressed in the divorce decree, you will have to go through the probate court and get a legal name change done. Probate Court is where you normally get your name changed, but divorce judges will do it as a courtesy sometimes, which is why you can do it in your divorce. But if you’re already divorced and then decided to go back to your maiden name or change you name to anything you want it can still be done. Check with your local probate court for county-specific requirements, but it is generally not that difficult or expensive to file.
Some general things to be aware of when requesting to change your name through Probate Court are that to change your name you must be at least nineteen years old, you cannot be requesting the name change to avoid paying debt or a judgment against you, you cannot be requesting the name change to defraud someone, and you must not be a convicted criminal sex offender or a defendant in a criminal proceeding. For minors, if both parents are on the birth certificate, both parents must sign the petition for a name change.
The court will schedule a hearing for you once you sign the petition for name change. When you file the petition you authorize the court to perform a background check on you. Some documents you’ll need to provide with your petition include: Alabama Drivers License or State Issued ID, Birth Certificate, Supporting Marriage and/or Divorce Documents, and Two (2) Proofs of Residency (e.g., current utility bill, voter registration, deed, mortgage, tax card, etc.). You must sign the petition in the presence of a notary public.
If you provide all the requested documentation, do not fall into any of the categories that prevent you from changing your name, and are not requesting a name that is considered profane, you should be able to get your name changed once the hearing takes place. Your name change is not effective until the judge approves your petition. Costs to file the petition can vary based on which county you file in and the number of copies that need to be made for your case. For example, in Jefferson County, the costs can range from $65.00 to $80.00. Our name change and Probate attorneys charge a $400 flat fee plus filing fee to do it for you or you can do it yourself. Many people file for name changes without an attorney to help them, but if you want some help in getting it filed then give us a call.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, and real estate closings on this website. He is always available in any of the firm’s offices or by phone anytime for a consultation. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply any feedback. We appreciate our readers and love to hear from you!