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How to change your name after a divorce

Once a divorce has been finalised, many people want to revert back to their maiden name as soon as possible. In spite of this, a surprisingly large number of people keep their married name. Not because they want to, but because they don’t know what they’ll need to do in order to officially revert back to their former surname.

The good news is that changing your name post-divorce is surprisingly easy. What’s more, once this has been done, changing the name companies, organisations and public bodies hold on you is also straightforward.

You’ll need a Deed Poll

The majority of service providers and public institutions will be able to change a person’s name after they’ve been provided with proof of the fact they are now divorced (i.e. a Decree Absolute). Others, though (usually financial institutions like banks and building societies) will also request a copy of your marriage certificate. As it’s necessary to submit this document to the court as part of any application for a divorce and it is not returned following the process having concluded, however, this poses a problem.

Should someone wish to change the name with such an organisation, they are left with two options: order a replacement copy of their marriage certificate or get a Deed Poll.

We’d always recommend people get a Deed Poll following a divorce because the process of obtaining one is quick, simple and cheap. Usually, an informal Deed Poll can be prepared without assistance (though you’ll need two people to sign the form as witnesses), meaning that it’s completely free. You can find the wording you’ll need to prepare your own Deed Poll here.

What if a Deed Poll you’ve prepared yourself isn’t accepted?

Whilst most companies and organisations will be happy to accept a Deed Poll you’ve prepared yourself as proof of the fact your name has changed, some will require something more official.

Under such circumstances, a Deed Poll that has been approved and issued by the courts (known as an enrolled Deed Poll) will be required. Getting one is relatively straightforward but will involve completion of a standard form. You’ll also need to pay a fee of £36.

Do I need to change my name following a divorce?

In short, no; there is no obligation, legal or otherwise, for someone to revert to their maiden name following a divorce. The decision to retain their married name or return to their former name is entirely personal.

Many people opt to keep their married name in order to have the same surname as their children. Others have been married for several decades and are concerned that most people have never known them by any other name. Some even retain their married names because they simply see no need to go through the hassle of changing it.

Are there any benefits to changing your name following a divorce?

Whilst there aren’t any overly obvious benefits to changing your name after your divorce has been finalised, many people claim that doing so is cathartic.

Changing their name, they claim, helps them to move on; to view the end of their marriage an opportunity to begin a new, happier life and to think of the end of their marriage in a more positive way.  

Ultimately, it is entirely up to you whether or not you should change your surname following your divorce.

 

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