YOUR NAME AFTER DIVORCEBy Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP
Q. When I was divorced, I didn't change my
name, but now I want to resume my former name and drop my ex-husband's name. Is it too
late to do this without an expensive attorney?
A. Janet Bateman, M.S., is the developer and facilitator for END MENDERS, a
divorce recovery program for both men and women. We asked Janet to share with you some of
the advice she gives her groups about name changes.
Divorce is very unsettling, to say the least. It is
difficult to think about changing one's name when there are so many other more pressing
issues, and many women decide to continue using their married names, at least for the time
Resuming your former name is a significant step. It
marks a return to a former SELF, and for many women, this represents a positive step
towards recovery and acceptance of the divorce.
If you were not ready to make a name change at the
time of divorce, and now you are, it is neither too late nor too difficult or expensive.
Here is the procedure.
- Go to
the County Clerk's Office. Bring with you:
--A black pen (forms must be typed or filled out in black ink).
--The case number designated when petition for dissolution was made.
--The date when judgment of dissolution was filed
with the Court (b and c will be found on papers sent to you by your attorney when the
divorce was final. The case number and date are also public record and can be found with
the clerk's help if necessary).
--A self-addressed stamped envelope.
- Request from the forms clerk two D-20 forms, also called "Ex-Parte Application for
Restoration to Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order." (You need two because
you will likely, under the stress of the moment, make a mistake and need to start over.)
- In the
section at the top that says "Attorney or Party Without Attorney," give your
current name and address.
- In the
section called "Marriage of," be legally accurate about who was Petitioner and
who was Respondent. Check how this section reads on your dissolution.
Item #2, be very specific about what you want your "former" (NEW) name to be.
Where it says "Signature of applicant" you sign with your present
or married name.
Item #3, again print the new name you are requesting.
fee for this process is zero. That's right, it's FREE.
prepared for a lack of enthusiasm by the clerks. Remember, this may be an emotionally
laden issue for you, but they are overworked, understaffed and have processed thousands of
these. Don't take their attitude personally.
Depending upon how busy they are that day, they may
process the form for you on the spot, giving you a copy as your evidence of name change.
Or they may use the self-addressed stamped envelope you brought and mail your copy to you.
When you have your copy of the form in hand, you can
begin the process of changing your name with other entities.
Perhaps the best place to start is with the
Department of Motor Vehicles. Take your D-20 form with you and get a new license. When
your new license is sent to you, gradually make the changes with banks, credit card
companies, Social Security, employers, etc.
During the period when the change is not complete,
you can use both signatures: your new name preceded by "AKA" (Also Known As).
When telling your children you are changing your
name, make a simple explanation appropriate to their age and understanding. Just tell them
the facts, and don't elaborate too much, so that they can retain pride in their birth
Your children will probably adapt to your new name
faster than family and friends. People who know you by your married name may take a while
to accept the change. And many people and institutions will assume that your name change
indicates a new marriage for you. Consider in advance how you will handle their comments
A name change should not be an impulsive decision, nor is it alone
the measure of your recovery from divorce. Before you change your name, make sure you have
thought your decision through and it is best for you.
If you would like more information about END MENDERS' divorce
recovery program, you may call Janet Bateman at (760) 727-9711.
Your Name After Divorce was
written by Ginita
Wall, CPA, CFP