If you are a woman dealing with divorce, the decision to change back to your maiden name or keep your married name is not always easy. The good news is your decision made at the time of your divorce does not have to be forever.
Returning to your maiden name upon your divorce is very simple and can be easily accomplished. At any time during the divorce process, you can request that you be allowed to change your name after the divorce. A statement allowing the name change upon finalization of the divorce will be included in your divorce decree.
However, like many women, you may choose to keep your married name, especially if you have children who share your same last name.
If you choose not to return to your maiden name upon your divorce, you may still change it at a later date. The process is a little lengthier, although not difficult, and requires several steps.
To change your name in Missouri, you must do the following:
1. File a petition requesting a name change with the court of the county where you live;
2. Attend a hearing;
3. Receive an order from the court;
4. Publish your name change for three weeks; and
5. Send the proof of publishing to the court.
Your petition must provide the court with your current name, your desired name, and why you wish to change it. In most cases, the court will easily grant your name change. As long as you are not doing so to avoid a debt and the name change does not harm anyone else, you should have no problem obtaining your name change. The hearing is fairly straight forward and quick. Your attorney will ask you several questions to present to the judge essentially what you stated in your petition. The judge may have several follow up questions as well.
Within 20 days of the hearing, you must publish notice of your name change at least three (3) times in a newspaper published in the county where you live. Proof of publication must be filed with the court within 10 days after the last publication.
Once you receive your final order (your certified copy of your divorce decree) from the court, you may begin the process of changing your name on your driver’s license and any other documents.
As a side note: To obtain a birth certificate reflecting a name change for a minor, you should submit a certified copy of the judgment to the Department of Health along with the requisite fee.
Below are links for useful information on how to change your name on various important documents following a name change:
Driver’s License: http://dor.mo.gov/faq/drivers/general.php#q19
At Raza Family Law Solutions, we practice family law effectively guiding clients through dissolution of marriage, modifications of prior judgments, and resolving child custody disputes. We also help families take a different approach to divorce with mediation and collaborative work. Contact us for a consultation at (314) 314-5505.