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  • 30 Aug 2023

    Does my name automatically change when I get divorced?

    It’s easy to assume that as your surname changes when you get married, it will revert to your maiden name when you get divorced. However, it’s not quite that simple.

    Changing your name when you get married

    Upon marriage, the marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate is evidence of a change of name. 

    For example, in heterosexual marriages where the woman wishes to adopt their husband’s surname, they do not need to do this via Deed Poll or a Change of Name Deed. In this circumstance, they can simply apply for a new passport and driving licence, and change their name on their bank accounts by producing their marriage certificate. 

    On the other hand, husbands who wish to take their wife’s name or if the name is becoming double-barrelled, then it may be necessary to do this by Deed Poll or a Change of Name Deed.

    Changing your surname after divorce

    The rules are similar when changing your name after divorce. It is commonly assumed that when the Final Order (previously Decree Absolute) is declared, that automatically reverses any changes of name on marriage without having to do anything. However this is not the case and changing your name following divorce is completely your choice.

    How do I change my last name back to my maiden name after divorce?

    To go back to your maiden name or a single barrelled name, you must take the steps outlined in the process above, sending off your Final Order with requests to change back to your previous name. It is also an option to complete this by Deed Poll.

    How hard is it to change my name after divorce?

    There are more requirements when you want to change your name following a divorce that make it more challenging than changing it when you get married. For example, to get a new passport in your old name, the Government will require additional documentation including:

    • Birth certificate
    • A signed statement demonstrating the intention to revert to a previous name
    • A document that shows the use of the new name e.g. payslip, local council letter etc.
    • The Final Order
    • The marriage or civil partnership certificate showing both names

    The Final Order is insufficient on its own. This is because it doesn’t reference the previous name, only the married one, whereas the marriage certificate does show the previous name as well as the other party’s surname indicating what the married name would be. 

    In most cases, it is advised to wait to get the Final Order until the finances surrounding the divorce are settled. If one party doesn’t want to wait to change their name, then they can do this via Deed Poll. Some organisations, such as the DVLA, will accept the Conditional Order (formally known as Decree Nisi) as sufficient evidence for the change of name. 

    If you want to change your name to something different than what it was prior to your marriage, it is necessary to do this by Deed Poll.

    Where do I need to change my name after divorce?

    After you have changed your name, you will have to contact a variety of places to let them know about the change. Some of these will require the original Change of Name Deed or Deed Poll document, but some will accept a photocopy. 

    We have put together this handy checklist of all the places you might need to inform about your change of name.

    Can I keep my married name after divorce?

    There are reasons why you may decide to keep your married name following a divorce rather than reverting back to your maiden name. These could include:

    • You may not want to go through the process of filling out the forms and notifying various organisations of the change
    • You may feel too well known by your married name with your friends/colleagues if you have been married for a long time
    • You may want to keep the same surname as your children for both emotional and practical reasons
    • You may not want to change your name for business or work purposes

    It is important to note that there is no legal obligation for you to change your name back to your maiden name after a divorce, the choice is yours. 

    If you feel unsure as to whether you should change your name or keep your married name, our friendly team can help you decide what’s best for you.

    Should I keep or change my last name after divorce?

    In short, the decision is entirely yours. There is no limit to the number of times you can change your name as long as each one is not for fraudulent purposes and has a genuine reason behind it. The process can be long including having to notify everyone of your new name so it’s important to think things through before you reach a decision.

    How can Hegarty Solicitors help?

    If you are facing a divorce and have questions about changing your name, would like to proceed with a Change of Name Deed or the division of assets, including the family home, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a solicitor like Hegarty.

    We can help you understand your rights, negotiate a divorce settlement that is in your best interests, and ensure that you are protected during the divorce process.  

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