Divorce can be a stressful time fraught with uncertainty and sweeping changes. Moving on sometimes means moving out. There are assets to divide, co-parenting arrangements to settle and lifestyle decisions to make. To change your name can be fundamental in forging a new identity. It also can trigger a range of emotions.

If you want to change your name, be sure to include the option in your divorce decree. That can save you from petitioning the court to try to amend the settlement.

A practical solution that is not always that simple.

Nothing is more distinguishable than your surname. It tells your life story. Binds you to your children. Defines you professionally. But what if you share that name with your ex-husband, a painful reminder of a love lost?

What to consider

Many women keep their birth names when they marry, and others might want to reclaim theirs after divorce. There are some key questions to answer moving forward:

  • Can you validate the change? Do not just dump your husband’s name because you hate him. If you are comfortable with the name and your social circle knows you by it the status quo might make sense.
  • Are the kids all right? Keeping the same name as your children can help them preserve some normalcy in an otherwise disruptive experience
  • Will you remarry? You might want to avoid too many name changes if you find another partner with which to start a new life.

If you revert to your birth name, go all-in with credit cards, bank and retirement accounts, Social Security and titled property. Each entity might require a different method to change your name, from doing it over the telephone and mailing out forms to showing up in person.

Be consistent with your financial and personal identities. Showing up at an apartment tour with one name on the application and another on your driver’s license could pose problems. Same with offering conflicting names at a job interview.

Stay true to who you are

Every divorce is unique, just like everyone’s identity. Changing your name is a personal choice. There is no right or wrong answer. It is about staying true to yourself, protecting your children and reshaping your future.

If you are facing divorce and want to discuss changing your name, you might want to connect with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and help secure the settlement you deserve.