Changing Names After Divorce – You and Your Child

After a divorce, it is quite common for women to want to return to using their maiden name. It helps bring closure to the relationship and move on to the next chapter. Some custodial parents also desire to change the last names of the children that the parties share. Although both processes may stem from the disintegration of the marital relationship, the legal process to achieve these two goals are very different.

For the name change of a party getting a divorce and wanting to return to his or her maiden name, the process is straight-forward. In the initial divorce pleadings or counter-petition, the party will request that the court allow him or her to go back to the maiden name after the divorce is over. Even if this request is not contained in the initial filings, a party can ask this of the court at the final hearing. There is no way for a soon-to-be-ex- to prevent a spouse from changing his or her last name. It is completely up to that individual. After the divorce decree is entered, the party who wishes to change his or her name may take the decree and other necessary documentation to government offices to formally change the name on a driver’s license, social security card, and other necessary documents.

Changing a child’s last name is a different proposition. First, a name change for a child cannot be commenced as part of a divorce case. It must be started as a totally different proceeding. The requesting parent will have to file the appropriate paperwork with the court and serve the request properly on the other parent, who will have the opportunity to appear and contest the change. The court will consider whether a change of the child’s surname is in his or her best interest by considering several factors including why the requesting parent wants the name change, the quality of the child’s relationship with each parent, how long the child has used the surname, the possible impact of the name change on the child, and what the child wants, depending on the age of the child. The older the child, the more reluctant a court will be to change a child’s name

Name changes during a divorce are an important topic for many couples. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 to talk about your divorce and your goals.

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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