Many New Yorkers wish to return to their maiden name after their divorce has been granted, but their unfamiliarity with the process can make it seem daunting. Luckily, legally changing your name post-divorce is anything but complicated, but there are certain steps one must follow to complete the process.
Before a party to divorce can officially change their surname, they must receive permission from the court. A knowledgeable matrimonial attorney will always include language in your Settlement Agreement, stipulating that you have the right to change your name if you so choose. This stipulation is standard, even if neither party wishes to resume the use of a previous surname.
If a stipulation regarding a name change is absent from your agreement or divorce decree, you will need to contact the court to request permission to amend the document. While most courts in New York allow amendments, some do not, and they require you to file a Petition for Name Change. As with any new legal action, it is best to contact an experienced attorney to assist you throughout the proceeding.
In order to legally change your name after divorce, you must possess the following documents:
- Certified Copy of your Judgment of Divorce
- Proof of identification (driver’s license or state ID card, passport)
- Proof of age (birth certificate or hospital record, adoption records)
If you do not have any of the above documents, you must request them from the appropriate state offices or agencies. You may purchase a certified copy of your Judgment of Divorce from the County Clerk’s office in the county in which your divorce was granted. There is a small fee to request a certified copy, which varies depending on the county and the number of pages in your decree. Your lawyer will be able to purchase a copy if you are unable to do so yourself.
Most agencies require a certified copy of your Judgment of Divorce to be included in your name change notification or request. Always confirm policies with each individual agency or financial organization prior to submitting a name change request.
Besides friends, family, and your employer, there are certain organizations and groups of people that you must notify of your name change. It is important to inform government agencies, as you will need to be given updated identification cards, such a driver’s license and Social Security Card. Most financial institutions will need these new forms of ID as further proof of your name change.
Corporations, agencies, and institutions that you need to notify can include:
- Social Services and the Department of Motor Vehicles
- United States Postal Service
- Banks, creditors, or other financial institutions
- Health and life insurance companies
- Healthcare providers
- Your children’s school (this can usually be done informally, via letter or phone call)
There is no official time frame for changing your name after divorce in New York, but some couples opt to include a stipulation in their Settlement Agreement outlining how long one person has to complete the process. Most divorcees choose to proceed forward with a legal name change as soon as their divorce has been finalized by a Judge. It all depends on the person and each individual situation.
Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. has represented thousands of clients throughout the New York City area successfully navigate their divorce or family court actions. For more information, or to find out the team can be an asset to you, contact the office to schedule a free consultation.