Divorce is the legal procedure which dissolves a marriage between two people who are legally married. After a divorce is finalized, each party may remarry if they choose to do so. A divorce decree is a final ruling from a court which provides a judgment and order making the termination of the marriage official.

Every divorce decree will be different, as it will be based upon the unique facts and circumstances of the case. The general purpose of a divorce degree is to outline the rights and duties of each party, as well as to provide instructions regarding child custody and division of property when applicable.

A divorce decree is important because the divorce process will not be complete until the decree is issued. What this means is that a person’s status as either married or divorced will not be changed or finalized until the divorce decree is ordered.

Divorce proceedings which are not yet concluded may affect many different areas of a person’s life, including:

  • Debt;
  • Property possession;
  • Taxes; and
  • Employment benefits.

A divorce decree generally addresses issues such as:

  • Division of property between the divorcing parties;
  • Spousal support or alimony;
  • Issues associated with children when applicable, including:
    • custody;
    • support; and
    • visitation; and
  • The financial obligations of each party. An example of this would be whether debts are to be paid by one or both of the parties.

In addition to these legal issues, a divorce decree will contain basic information regarding the case including:

  • The names of the parties;
  • The effective date of the divorce decree; and
  • The case number.

This information can be helpful when attempting to locate records of the divorce in the future, which are generally kept by the local county records office. A divorce record provides evidence that the people were married, and that they have legally and officially terminated that marriage. A divorce record may also be referred to as a marriage dissolution certificate.

A divorce record may be official, meaning that it can be accessed from state records for a fee. Divorce records may also be indexed, which means that they are accessible through various websites or organizations. A divorce record can generally be obtained at the county court where the divorce was filed. If the record is not available there, it may be obtained at the local recorder’s office.

How Do I Return To My Former Last Name After A Divorce?

A legal name change is the legal process which allows a person to legally change their name, meaning that they will be allowed to use their new name on official documents. The legal name change process exists so that a person may preserve their constitutional right to change their name, while at the same time doing it in such a manner that is recognized by the law.

If a person changes their name in a way that is considered to be illegal or unofficial, they could face considerably serious legal consequences. Examples include criminal charges such as:

  • Fraud;
  • Identity theft; and
  • Tax evasion.

In most states, you can request the judge who is addressing your divorce to include a formal order restoring your former or birth name in the divorce decree. The order in the divorce decree is sufficient as official documentation of a legal name change. However, you should obtain certified copies of the order as proof of the name change, which can generally be arranged through the court’s clerk.

Additionally, you will need to complete and file name-change forms for:

  • Social Security;
  • IRS 8822;
  • United States Passport; and
  • Your state driver’s license.

After filing these forms, you must also submit documents to all of your creditors such as:

  • Banks;
  • Credit cards; and
  • Insurance providers.

If your divorce has been finalized and your divorce decree does not contain a court order that changes your name back to your former name, you may be able to obtain a court order to change your name. There are ways to change your name to your former name if you have old legal documents or passports that provide your previous name. However, this would involve a considerable amount of paperwork to change the name back to your former last name.

You should first determine whether your state will allow your divorce decree to be amended, in order to include an order restoring your former name. In some states, such as California, this amendment is possible even after the divorce is final.

The cost to change your name after a divorce varies according to whether the state allowed you to change your name through the divorce decree. Generally speaking, the only costs would be filing fees and payment for certified copies.

Can I Change My Children’s Last Name To My Former Last Name After A Divorce?

There are several reasons as to why an adult may request a legal name change for a child. Some of the most common examples include when:

  • A child has been adopted;
  • A parent has remarried; and/or
  • If the parents got divorced.

Another reason that an adult may change the name of a child would be if the child is a victim of a crime, such as stalking or domestic violence. Changing their name can help to protect their identity, and may prevent the criminal offender from locating the child in the future. A child name change may also arise if the child is being bullied, or does not like their name. Their parents and/or guardians can petition the court for a name change on their behalf.

You can obtain a name change for your child by court petition when it is clearly in the best interest of your child to do so. Courts consider several factors when deciding whether to grant the petition:

  • The length of time that the child has used their current last name;
  • The importance of the name change in helping the child to identify with a new family unit, especially when the custodial parent remarries;
  • The strength of the mother-child relationship;
  • The strength of the father-child relationship; and/or
  • If it is in the child’s best interest.

Depending on state laws, the parent and/or guardian must complete an application or petition for a name change, and file it with their local probate or family law court. This will require paying a court filing fee. If only one of the parents is requesting the name change, they must notify the other parent. They must also pay a fee to their local newspaper in order to publish notice of the child’s name change, unless special circumstances apply such as when the child is a victim of a crime.

In cases in which only one of the parents is aware of the name change, they will need written consent from the non-custodial parent. If the non-custodial parent is deceased, they must attach a death certificate to their application. Additionally, most applications will request that the parent attach a copy of the child’s birth certificate.

A hearing will be held in which the petitioning party can explain to the court the reason that they are requesting that the child’s name be changed. The court will consider these reasons, as well as what the name is being changed to and whether the name change is in the child’s best interest.

If the court grants the petition, the parent will be responsible for notifying:

  • The local paper;
  • Relevant government agencies; and
  • Any other sources as mandated by state guidelines.

Do I Need A Lawyer For Help Changing My Name After Divorce?

Your divorce lawyer can ensure that you have the appropriate documentation to begin changing your name on all of your identification and personal records. If you wish to change your child’s name, a family lawyer can help you advocate for your child’s best interest.