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How do I change my name after a divorce?

While most people getting ready to divorce are concerned about issues such as child support, custody and how the assets will be divided, there are smaller details that can slip through the cracks. For many people, getting a divorce also means changing their name, and this can be a surprisingly complex experience.

In some cases, it is possible to get the name change ordered as part of the divorce decree, particularly if the woman is going back to her maiden name. While legally changing your name is not a requirement for all aspects of your life, not doing it can create problems with any official federal or government records because of the restrictions imposed on identification documents to protect against identity theft.

You'll need to change your name with the Social Security Administration first, and you will need both your marriage certificate and your divorce decree to do this. It's important to make sure you have the actual filed order for the divorce and not a copy to avoid having to come back with the correct documentation. Once you have a new Social Security card with the proper name, you can take that and your marriage and divorce documents to get a new driver's license. Most other agencies, such as banks and universities, will allow an up-to-date driver's license as a primary form of ID.

While changing your name after a divorce may seem like the most logical choice, it's important to understand that it can take time to get your name changed at all of the agencies you use. Some people also prefer to keep their married name so that they have the same last name as their children.

Source: FindLaw, "How to Legally Change Your Name," accessed Oct. 01, 2015

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