Going through a divorce can be an emotionally challenging and overwhelming time, and it can sometimes feel like there is an endless barrage of decisions to make and details to manage. Amidst the turmoil, the logistics of changing your last name after divorce may seem like yet another daunting task on your to-do list.
We understand that this process can feel like a weighty step, symbolizing a significant change in your life and identity. In this blog, we will break down the common reasons why people choose either to change or keep their married name after a divorce, the process of changing your name in Florida, and some of the other important considerations that come with the decision to change your name.
Considerations Impacting the Decision to Change Your Name
The decision to change your name or to keep your married name is an intensely personal one.
Although people may have many different reasons for changing their name after their marriage ends, here are a few common reasons:
- Emotional closure: Changing one's name after a divorce can provide a sense of emotional closure and help individuals move forward with their lives. It can symbolize a fresh start, allowing them to disassociate from the past and embrace their new identity.
- Avoiding unwanted associations: In some cases, a person may want to distance themselves from their ex-spouse, especially if the relationship was contentious or abusive. Changing their last name can help avoid unwanted associations and create a sense of independence.
- Consistency with a maiden name or previous name: Some individuals may choose to revert to their maiden name or a previous last name to maintain consistency with their pre-marriage identity. This can be especially important for those who had established careers or reputations under their prior name.
At the same time, many people decide to keep their married name after divorce.
The reasons to do so can include:
- Maintaining consistency for children: If a couple has children together, keeping the same last name can help maintain consistency and stability for the children, reducing potential confusion or feelings of alienation.
- Professional reasons: For individuals who have built a professional reputation under their married name, keeping their last name after divorce may be beneficial for their career. Changing their name could lead to confusion among colleagues, clients, or other professional contacts.
- Administrative ease: The process of changing one's name can be time-consuming and involve updating various documents, accounts, and records. Some individuals may choose to keep their name after divorce to avoid the hassle and expense associated with a name change.
- Personal identity: Some people may feel that their married name has become an integral part of their identity, regardless of their marital status. In such cases, they may choose to keep their name as a reflection of their personal growth and experiences during the marriage.
Changing Your Name During the Divorce Process
To change your last name during the divorce process in Florida, make sure to include the request for a name change in the initial divorce petition or response. This is important because it allows the court to include the name change in the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. If the request is not included initially, you can still amend the initial petition to request a name change before the Final Judgement.
Changing Your Name After the Divorce Is Finalized
In Florida, if you want to change your name after your divorce has already been finalized and the name change was not included in the divorce decree, you will need to follow the legal name change process.
Here are the steps involved:
- Obtain the necessary forms: You will need to obtain a Petition for Change of Name (Adult) form.
- Complete the petition: Fill out the petition with the required information, including your current name, desired new name, address, date of birth, and the reason for the name change. Be sure to provide accurate and complete information.
- Get fingerprints taken (if required): Some counties in Florida require you to submit fingerprints along with your petition. Check your local county's requirements and, if necessary, have your fingerprints taken by a law enforcement agency or an authorized service provider.
- File the petition: Submit your completed petition, fingerprint card (if required), and any other necessary documents to the appropriate circuit court in the county where you reside. There will be a filing fee associated with the submission, which can vary by county. Be prepared to pay this fee when you file your petition.
- Attend a hearing (if required): Depending on your county, you may be required to attend a court hearing before a judge approves your name change. During the hearing, the judge may ask questions about your reasons for the name change and review the submitted documents. If the judge approves your request, they will issue a signed order granting the name change.
- Obtain a certified copy of the order: Obtain a certified copy of the signed order from the court clerk's office, as this serves as proof of your legal name change.
Changing Your Name with Official Government Agencies
To update your name with various government agencies like the Social Security Administration and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), you will need several documents.
- A certified copy of the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, which includes the name change order, or a certified copy of your name change order.
- Proof of identification, such as a driver's license, state ID card, or passport.
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status, such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or permanent resident card.
- Social Security Card
Be sure to keep multiple certified copies of the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage or name change order on hand, as you may need them for various name change processes. You may also want to create a checklist of all institutions and entities you need to notify of your name change to ensure you don't miss any important updates. Be patient and give yourself time to complete the process, as it may take several weeks or months to finalize all name changes.
K. Dean Kantaras, P.A. Can Support You
Throughout the name change process, it's helpful to seek legal counsel from an experienced family law attorney. They can help guide you through the process, address any concerns or roadblocks, and ensure that your rights and interests are protected. With the right legal support, changing your last name during the divorce process in Florida can be a smooth and stress-free experience. No matter what you decide, the experienced divorce attorneys at K. Dean Kantaras, P.A. can help you navigate your divorce and make sure that your interests and rights are protected.
Contact us online or call us at (727) 939-6113 to learn more about how we can help you build a better future for yourself and your family.