How Do I Change My Last Name After Divorce?

Divorce is fundamentally a period of change. Whether your divorce is amicable or contentious, the many changes initiated by the divorce process can be challenging emotionally and practically. The process often requires you to make many consequential decisions, and knowing how best to navigate those decisions can be difficult. One common decision, especially for women, is whether to change your last name after a divorce.

Name Change During Divorce in Ohio

In Ohio, changing your last name during the divorce process is relatively straightforward. According to Ohio Revised Code 3105.16, you can change your name back to a previous name as part of the divorce process. Whether you choose to do so is entirely up to you. Your ex cannot compel you to change your name, nor can they force you to keep your married name.

This change is incorporated into the divorce process, and your final divorce decree will serve as evidence of your name change that you will then submit to other government agencies. Be sure to obtain a certified copy of your divorce decree to submit to the Social Security Administration and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Changing Your Name to a Different Name

If you want to change your name to an entirely new one you did not have before your divorce, you will not be able to do so as part of your divorce. Instead, you will need to apply for an Adult Name Change.

The process for an Adult Name Change in Ohio is more involved than changing your name during a divorce. It begins by filing a petition with the probate court in your county. Your petition will need to include specific details, such as your current name, the name you wish to adopt, and the reasons for the change.

To elaborate on the process, here are the primary steps involved:

  • Obtain the "Application for Change of Name" form from the probate court in your county or download it from their website.
  • Fill out the form with all the required information, including any necessary supporting documents.
  • Pay the filing fee (the amount varies by county).
  • The court will set a hearing date, usually about 6-8 weeks from the date you submit your application.
  • You will be required to publish a notice of your name change in a local newspaper at least 30 days before the hearing.
  • Attend the hearing where the judge will make a decision based on the information you've provided.

If the judge approves your request, you will then receive a court order that you can use to change your name on all legal documents and records. It's important to note that the court may deny your name change application if they believe it's for fraudulent or other illegal purposes.

Pros and Cons to Changing Your Name

Deciding whether to change your name after a divorce is a deeply personal choice only you can make. However, it may help to consider the following potential pros and cons associated with changing your name.

Pros of Changing Your Name

  • Starting fresh: Changing your name can symbolize a fresh start or a new chapter in your life. It can help you emotionally disassociate from your past relationship and move forward.
  • Ease of use: If you revert to your maiden name or adopt a new last name, you may experience less confusion in social or professional situations. You won't have to explain why you have a different last name than your former spouse.
  • Personal identity: Your last name is a significant part of your identity. If your married name doesn't resonate with you, changing it can bring you emotional comfort and satisfaction.

Cons of Changing Your Name

  • Administrative hassle: Changing your name involves updating it on all legal documentation, which can be a time-consuming and tedious process.
  • Children's last name: If you have children who carry your married name, you might wish to keep the same last name as theirs to avoid potential confusion or emotional distress.
  • Professional considerations: If you've built a professional identity with your married name, changing it might create confusion or disrupt your professional reputation.

In the end, the decision to change your name is yours alone. It's crucial to weigh the pros and cons and consider your personal circumstances. Whatever you decide, ensure it is what feels right for you and your future.

Next Steps After Changing Your Name

Once you have legally changed your name, there are several steps you need to follow to ensure your new name is reflected in all appropriate areas. The first and most important step is updating your Social Security record. To do this, you must complete a Social Security card application and submit it with a certified copy of your divorce decree or court order to your local Social Security office.

After updating your Social Security record, it's crucial to update your identification documents, including:

  • Driver's license
  • Passport
  • Professional licenses
  • Update your name with your bank, credit card companies, and any other financial institutions

Finally, don't forget to inform other entities of your name change. This includes utility companies, insurance providers, medical providers, your employer, and schools. Remember, you'll need to provide a certified copy of your divorce decree or court order as proof of your name change. You'll also likely want to update any online accounts, such as email and social media, with your new name.

How Crossman & McNamee, LLC Can Help

At Crossman & McNamee, LLC, we understand the complexities and emotional toll of divorce proceedings and vital decisions such as changing your name. Our experienced team is here to guide you through each step, ensuring you fully understand the process and its implications.

Contact us online or call us at (937) 468-3796, and let us help you confidently navigate your path forward.