It is common practice for most women to change their last names to their husband’s name upon marriage, but there is much confusion about what to do after a divorce. While this is not a legal issue, as a Colorado Springs family lawyer I am often asked about by clients about whether they should revert back to their maiden name.
Like any other major decision, there are pros and cons on both sides. Many women find it easier to keep their husband’s name if they have only been married a short time, have no children, or if their ex-husband is getting remarried.
When there are children from the marriage, chances are people will assume you share their last name – even when you don’t. Keeping the same name as your children can be much simpler when communicating with schools, pediatricians and other parents. Children also benefit when their parents share the same last name, as it helps them build their identity at an early age. When one parent has a different last name, it can make them feel “different” from other children.
Another consideration when changing surnames is the hassle. When you consider how many pieces of identification are in your wallet alone, it can take a while to change everything. You will need to provide proof of your name change to credit card issuers, mortgage companies, Social Security, drivers’ licensing offices, banks, employers and much more. Failing to do this properly and in a timely manner can even have an effect on your credit score.
Do you have to take your maiden name back, or is there another option? Many women today are opting to choose an entirely new last name, rather than reverting back to “maiden” status. After a nasty divorce, it can often be easier to just start fresh with a new last name. The only problem it might present is with acquaintances and co-workers who might think you remarried. The best part about making this kind of move is how empowering it will feel.
As a Colorado Springs family lawyer, I have seen many women escape some of the pain of their divorce by legally changing their name, and I’ve been able to advise them on the best ways to handle the paperwork involved in this process. If you’re thinking that divorce is all about “endings”, maybe it’s time to liberate yourself and think of it as a new beginning. Losing the “married name” is a great place to start.