The change of the last name is a common thing when the family status changes. When getting married, one of the spouses often takes the surname of the other. Several options are available in this situation: both can take a double last name, or each spouse can keep their own. Nevertheless, traditionally, women take the surname of their fiancé, under which the two of them become known as one family.
Conversely, if the couple divorces, one or both parties may wish to get things back. There’s nothing to change if each spouse preserves their own last name during marriage registration. However, if a woman took her husband’s surname or hyphenated it with her own, which is much more common than cases when men change their surnames, she may choose to either keep it the way it is after the marriage or change the name back to maiden name.
Generally, no US law requires anyone to change last name after a divorce or while getting married. This decision is purely a matter of personal preference. Still, many women opt for changing name after divorce due to a myriad of reasons.
In Florida, name change after divorce is quite common and procedurally grounded. Nevertheless, it’s not as simple as starting using your maiden name the moment the divorce process is finalized. This procedure is legally binding and entails certain steps that must be taken care of to avoid any problems in the future.
So, how to legally change your name in Florida? We aim to answer this question in this publication. But first, let’s look at the possible benefits and drawbacks of name change after divorce.
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The Benefits and Drawbacks of Changing Your Last Name after Divorce
So, it has already been cleared out that the decision about changing the last name after divorce is a deeply individual matter that depends on a person’s unique feelings and circumstances. While it may be purely personal for some people, others view the issue from a more practical perspective. Most often, however, it touches upon one’s feelings about the past marriage and the subsequent divorce. Here are some pros and cons of getting back to your maiden name.
In case you have not decided yet and still wonder “What are the benefits of changing your name?”, think about a sense of closure and individualism that may push back all the negatives of your previous relationship.
Indeed, your ex’s surname is a constant reminder of them and all the time you’ve wasted on your life together. In case of an unfavorable relationship, unhappy marriage, or painful divorce, it’s not something you would like to take with you into the future. Getting back your maiden name is like breaking free from this burdensome union and cutting off any associations with your ex.
While the same last name is a symbol of oneness for a married couple, you do not need this stigma anymore after the marriage is over. Some women even view their husband’s surname as some earmark to signal his ownership. Of course, they are eager to eliminate this nasty label and regain their individualism.
One way or another, divorce marks the start of a new chapter in your life. Therefore, it’s quite natural to change your last name for the new beginning and feel a complete closure of the previous chapter called “marriage.”
While very few women think about the possible disadvantages of keeping maiden name when they are getting married, they often start considering all the shortcomings of getting back to it when they divorce.
The first weighty argument against changing the last name after the divorce is the burden of the logistical challenges the process entails. Indeed, if you neglect the chance and don’t change the name during the divorce process, you’ll have to deal with additional paperwork, petitioning, court fees, and litigations. Also, you’ll need to update a lot of documents and records afterwards, which requires quite a lot of effort. As a result, many people choose to keep going the way it is if there are no more serious reasons for the name change.
Other women may be reluctant to change their last name because of children. Well, at least that’s how they explain this unwillingness. Some of them do not want to have different surnames with their kids or think that it is unfair to them. Although it is not a problem if this name change has no potential negative impact on children, such a stance is also valid, and women have a right to see it as a drawback.
The most common reason not to change the last name after divorce is probably the professional and personal achievements obtained during the marriage. If you were in the process of pursuing your academic career, you could have written some thesis papers, journal articles, or other publications signed by the name you had at that time. You could have started a business, a professional practice, or any other activity in which your last name may act as your personal brand. If you change it, you may face a lot of confusion from the public, your clients, colleagues, and/or partners, as well as possible troubles with patents and intellectual property rights.
Does It Cost Anything to Change Name After Divorce?
The cost to change the last name after a divorce depends on whether you do it during the marriage dissolution process or make such a decision later.
In Florida, a common Petition for Dissolution of Marriage contains a question about the return to the former legal name. So, when filling out the forms, you can check this box and indicate the name you want to be known by. In such a case, the issue will be resolved in the course of the divorce action, the order on name change will be included in the Final Judgment, and you will not need to pay anything in addition to the regular court fees and accompanying expenses.
If you decide to change your last name after the divorce process is finalized, you will need to file a separate petition, go through another legal procedure, and pay any applicable court fees. Although the overall cost may depend on the county and additional documents you may need, it usually revolves around $400-$450.
List of Documents You Need for Changing Last Name
If you indicate in the petition that you want to be known by your former name when filing for divorce, no additional documents will likely be needed. The judge will take this request into account and issue a corresponding order in the divorce decree, which is known as the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage in Florida.
In case you did not specify this request to the court during your marriage dissolution process and only decided to restore your birth name later, you may be wondering how to change name after the divorce was finalized. In fact, it’s not a problem since you can easily do this through another court process authorized by Florida law. Just be ready to file another petition, pay court fees, and attend a hearing.
So, what do you need to change your last name after the divorce process is already over? Here’s a list of the documents you should prepare:
Petition for Name Change
To change the name after the Final Judgment was signed and your marriage was dissolved, you need to make a formal request to the court. Complete a Petition for Change of Name and other obligatory forms and file them with the local court to start another process.
Even if your divorce decree with a name change clause does not contain a corresponding order, you need to attach this document to the petition. It will serve as proof and grounds for restoring your maiden name.
Proof of Your Identity
Any document with your photo can help to prove your identity. It may be a driver’s license, a passport, a state or military ID, or any other identification issued by the government.
Proof of Citizenship
But for your identity, you need to prove your citizenship or US residency. To do this, you may attach a valid US passport or an official certificate of birth, naturalization, or citizenship. Just remember that this certificate or other document should contain the same name as on your ID.
Proof of Your Social Security Number
You will also need to prove your Social Security. So, make sure you have an original Social Security card, a W-2 form, an IRS 1099 form, or a pay stub.
Order for Name Change
After the court approves your petition, it will issue the order in a Final Judgment of Change of Name. Although it should be filled out by the judge, you need to take this form with you to the final hearing.
What Important Records Should Be Updated?
Since now you are known under another name, you will also need to legally change your name with important government agencies and businesses and update all the records that may contain it.
The Florida Name Change free service can help to update some of the most crucial government identification records. However, there may be more agencies to handle.
Here, we provide more details on your question, “After name change, what to do next?”
First of all, you should notify the Social Security office and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) about the changed name. Besides, accounts and legal records, including your smartphone, loyalty programs, homeowner’s insurance, utilities, bank accounts, etc., must also be updated. You may contact some companies directly and provide documents confirming your name change to complete this mission. Others require additional documents or actions from you.
Social Security Number (SSN) Card
Changing name on a social security card after divorce is the first thing you should take care of. Contact the Social Security Administration in person or by mail to notify them about the new name so that they can issue a new SSN Card. Mind that there is no online option for this procedure.
You will need to provide:
- a completed Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5),
- a certified name-change document, which may be either a Final Judgment of Change of Name or a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage if it contains a corresponding order,
- a proof of your identity and age in the form of a passport, ID card, or driver’s license,
- proof of citizenship.
Your new SSN card will likely be sent to you by mail.
You should update your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and state ID card with the Florida DHSMV within 10 days. Here, you must only act in person since mail-in or online options are unavailable.
Bring your current driver’s license or ID card and proofs of your legal name change, your SSN, your Florida residency (2 documents), and your citizenship. This procedure will cost you $25.
After you are done with your SSN card and driver’s license, you may update the rest of the documents and legal identification.
To update your passport, you should submit a corresponding application form to your local Department of State. You will most likely need a DS-11 form, but much depends on your personal situation. In addition, provide proof of your US citizenship, an original and a photocopy of a valid updated ID, proof of your name change, and a color passport photo that meets the requirements.
This procedure will also require a fee, which mostly depends on your age. Please get in touch with the US Department of State to learn more about the required forms and fees.
You can update the voter registration records through an online application at RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov or at the local Supervisor of Elections office. Besides, you can even do this while updating the driver’s license at the DHSMV office. In any case, you will need to fill out the Florida Voter Registration Application and provide some proof of your identity and name change.
Of course, the HR department at your workplace must know about your new name to update all the relevant records. Contact your HR manager to get the necessary directions. You may need to fill out some forms concerning salary, insurance, taxes, etc.
Banks and Other Financial Institutions
Contact each financial entity you are related to directly to update your records on credit cards, accounts, etc. The process at each of them may vary a bit. However, providing your ID and name change proof is a must.
Health Care Providers
Related healthcare, pharmaceutical, or health and life insurance entities should also be updated, just like financial institutions.
You should also notify the United States Postal Service (USPS) about the changed name either in person or online.
Any loyalty programs, memberships, magazine subscriptions, etc., must also be updated about your name change to avoid possible confusion in the future.
Think about any other important entity, institution, or program that may have your name in the records. Make sure you inform them about the change and provide all the necessary documents and/or proofs they may require.