Women undergoing divorce proceedings must choose whether to keep a former spouse’s last name or revert back to a maiden name. While it is up to each individual to choose the name she prefers, there are factors that can influence the decision, including the length of the marriage and whether or not there are children who share the former spouse’s surname. If you have decided to change your name, there are a few things you need to know in order to make the change permanent and legal.
Going Through the Legal Name Change Process After a Divorce
In Rhode Island, spouses can revert back to a former name as part of the divorce proceeding. It must be specifically stated in the divorce decree that you wish to change back to the name you held before marriage (the name stated on your birth certificate).
Once you have obtained a copy of the divorce decree ordering your name change, you will need to update your:
- Primary identification. The first step toward changing your name is to take the divorce decree and your birth certificate to your local Social Security (SS) office to obtain a new SS card. Once your SS card is updated, you may visit your local DMV office with your current RI driver’s license and proof of name change (your new SS card) and apply for a new license. Once a driver’s license in the new name has been issued, the license may be used as a primary ID to obtain a new passport.
- Legal identification. You will need to update your name on any legal documents, including your will, deeds or trusts, and property titles. You should also update your name on your voter registration card if you plan to vote in any upcoming elections.
- Address and account identification. It is your responsibility to update your legal name with the post office, your bank, and anywhere your name is used. You may need to submit a name change form to ensure that your taxes, car title and registration, bank accounts, credit cards, retirement accounts and 401K, investment accounts, mortgages, employment records, insurance policies, and medical records use your correct name. While you are changing your name on these accounts, you may want to change your beneficiary designations, so your ex-spouse does not inherit your assets if you want them to go to someone else.
- Child’s identification. If you wish to change your children’s names along with your own, this will have to be done through the family court system. However, a minor name change petition will only be approved if both parents have given consent.
Divorce forces people to make a lot of decisions in a short space of time, many of which will continue to affect them for years into the future. The legal team at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can help you through this process. Please get in touch with us today via our online contact form.