Reader J has a good question about changing your name after your divorce — it seems like a good follow up to last week’s conversation about gender-neutral names (and the commenters’ discussion of Miss, Ms., and Mrs.).
I was hoping you could address (and gather some opinions about) the issue of how one should go about transitioning a return to her maiden name during and after a divorce. I’m by no means a “Name” superstar or anything like that, but it does seem like a bit of daunting process to jump in with a new identity, particularly after I’ve been in practice for about 10 years. Should I start using my maiden name in conjunction with my married name to ease the transition? My maiden name is technically my middle name but I have only ever used my middle initial for professional purposes. Also, I’m wondering how best to explain the new name. I really do not want to hold on to my ex’s name, however.
First: I’m sorry; I’m sure divorce isn’t easy. And as someone who’s been through the name change process once, I don’t envy you for having to do it again. (I used the services of MissNowMrs. when I did it; they have a state-specific collection of government forms and draft letters for your credit card companies and the like — it might be helpful to you now in this situation as well.) (Pictured: Broken Heart, originally uploaded to Flickr by miguelpdl.)
Second — the professional name change. Whew. I’m interested to hear what the readers say, but my advice would be to start using your maiden name in conjunction with your ex’s name. For example, if your full name right now is Jane Doe Smith, with Doe being your maiden name and Smith being your married name, the easiest way to do it might be to begin using “Jane Doe Smith.” But then if “Smith” falls away, you will definitely get questions as to where it went. For that reason, I might suggest using “Jane Smith Doe” instead — Doe will soon be your legal last name again, and for people who don’t know you well they’ll assume you got married. Furthermore, you can switch your email address to be [email protected] and have it be consistent both during the transition and after. (Make sure that your tech people know to keep [email protected] up and running for at least a year or more, forwarded to [email protected]) After a suitable period (3 months? 6 months? a year?) drop the Smith from your name.
Honestly, the only other options I see are to a) hold onto your ex’s name until you marry again — but this only makes sense if you expect to be engaged/married very soon after the divorce is finalized, or b) drop the use of any last name (which, I think, was Roseanne Barr’s solution when she divorced from Tom Arnold). (I’m kidding, honestly, unless you are a) a performer and b) have a distinctive first name.)
Readers, what’s your advice — either on name changes or on divorce in general?
Although it’s very difficult for me to relate to a woman wanting to change her name to her husbands, I respect the personal choice involved. However, my anecdotal experience has been that the vast majority of women who change their names don’t seem to give it much thought, so it doesn’t even seem to be a personal *choice.* (I’m not assuming this to be the case of other posters here, just recalling my experiences with women I’ve known.) When they did offer a reason, it typically was because the husband said it was very important to him (or something along these lines) or the women thought it would make them feel like more of a family. Because I can think of many, many reasons not to change one’s name, it’s hard for me to understand either (a) changing it without even seeming to think about it or (b) changing it for one of the above reasons. I would be very curious to hear from some women who did change their names and the reasons, because I really want to understand. Are there other reasons? Are there other issues I’m missing?
I got married in 1987 and S2BX (soon-to-be-ex) hubby and I are 49. He insisted that I change my name and refused to consider letting our future kids have my maiden name as a middle name. HUGE red flags that I ignored and that predicted other more major differences. Now I’m divorcing and I’m very happy that I kept my maiden name as my legal middle name: It’s always been on my various licenses (legal and other) and on business cards and websites. So, once my SS card and drivers’ license are changed back to my maiden name, I will be getting a new firm email address and will have my diplomas and licenses reissued. I will then send out an email to contacts and try not to sound too pleased when I report that I will be changing my name!
Benefits are that my maiden name is never mispronounced or misspelled and is easier, if a bit more common.
I don’t judge anyone for keeping or changing as there are good arguements on both sides, but I think anyone who feels pressured by their (future) spouse should think twice.
I changed my name when I was married, and here is my story why.
When I was 2 years old, my father died. My mother remarried when I was around 6 years old. I remember my mother asking me at that time if I wanted to change my name. I remember thinking that my grandfather (my father’s father) would some how be hurt if I changed my name because I was, in my mind, erasing my father. (I realize this was the reasoning of a 6 year old, and I’m sure my grandfather would have understood.) My mother and stepfather had 3 children together, and although they were my half-brothers, I considered them my brothers. However, my last name was different from my mothers, stepfather and brothers.
Growing up this was extremely difficult. I went to Catholic school in the mid-80’s, and the first day of school I had to explain to the nun that my parents weren’t “divorced,” but my father had passed away, and she didn’t of course believe me, and I had to wait in the office while she checked the church records to make sure my mother didn’t get divorced without an annulment by the church. One time I had a problem with my step-father (who legally adopted me) picking me up from school when I was sick because his ID did not match my name. (dummies didn’t look in their paperwork to see the contact info, grrrr.) I had problems leaving the country on a family vacation because everyone’s name was something other than my name, and the people at the airport counter thought I was being kidnapped. People would not realize my brothers and I were siblings. So many times I would find myself explaining to people, “my dad died, my mother remarried, my step-dad adopted me, I just didn’t change my name,” countless times. I had it on auto-pilot and it was literally those exact words.
For many years, I felt like I wasn’t connected to the family. People would send Christmas cards addressed to the “Step-father’s-last-name Family,” and I was have this small feeling of being left out because I wasn’t part of that family. I guess like a commenter above, the welcome mat on the front step was not my name, and I felt left out. Please keep in mind, these are feelings I had growing up… as a child, through my teens, etc. I realize now as an adult I was always apart of that family, but having grown up and constantly having to explain why my name was different, really wore me down. I felt like an outsider. When I married, I changed my name. We had a two year engagement, and most of that time I though about to-change, or not-to-change. For a while my husband and I discussed picking a new neutral name for both of us, and then discussed creating a new name. In the end, I decided to change my name, because I finally wanted that consistency, the connection, and finally a “family” name for a “family of mine.” For a little while after I was married, I felt defeated, because I stuck to my own name for so long, and I gave it up when I was married, but that was kinda like buyers remorse, I was sad for the moment, and then 7 years later, and still happily married, I don’t regret my decision.
I plan to change my name to my boyfriend’s because mine is very long, difficult to pronounce (even lawyers I’ve worked with for years mispronounce it), and difficult to spell over the phone because people confuse “f” with “s”. These may seem like superficial reasons, but my sisters changed theirs years ago and attest to the joys of being liberated from an ugly last name!
we’re an interracial couple, and I have a very ethnic first and last name. It was important to my husband for us to have the same name.
so I am myfirst mylast-hislast, and he is hisfirst hislast-mylast. It’s taken some getting used to. Some family has been accepting and some hasn’t. It’s worked out for us.
One last comment. One of my close friends kept her ex-husband’s name because at first it seemed like too much hassle to change it back, but now holds on to it because she has become aware that it annoys the living crap out of her ex-husband’s new wife – whom the ex “met” while still married to my friend. Hah!
Here is a funny story.
Some 15 plus years ago, my cousin, who was a journalist at the time, was getting married. Because she had a byline, she decided to not change her name. Makes sense. This outraged her uber conservative mother (my aunt) and our grandmother. It caused quite the family debate. Anyhoo, cousin gets married, does not change her name. My aunt is not one to let things slide and needles my cousin about it. Cousin gets pregnant and decides to be a stay at home mom. Great and valid choice. Her kids go to school with different name than mom. Cousin never goes back to fulltime journalism bidness. Ten years later I, the professional cousin, get married and change my name. This causes aunt to complain bitterly that if I could change my name, being an attorney an all, why could cousin not change her name. Many years later, cousin admits to me in private that if she could do it again, she would have changed her name so she and kids and husband would all have the same name. I tell her that I could handle that for her. No big deal. Cousin says there is no way on the planet the will do that until her mother, my aunt, dies as cousin could not stand to let her mother, my aunt, think she was right! Ahhhh, family dynamics. Don’t ya love it.
When I got divorced I didn’t change my name, mainly because of my son. Within months I regretted this decision and paid extra fees to have it changed–much eaiser to do in the divorce. My concern was that if I ever got remarried, I’d feel obligated to change it. How could I tell my new husband “sorry honey, but I am keeping my ex’s name”. So I ended up changing my name. I didn’t go with my maiden name because I hated it my entire life. It was my dad’s name whom I had little to no contact with. I went with my Mother’s maiden name. The family that I had the most connection with. I was just getting ready to sit for the bar so it made sense (although still have not changed my PP-Note that it’s free if you do it right way, which I didn’t know!) 5 years later, I am getting remarried and so glad that I changed my name and he has no issues with me keeping my name.
I didn’t change my name and we gave our kids my last name. My husband prefers my last name and I didn’t care either way. His parents were upset at the time but have gotten over it. We’ve been married 25 years and both answer to the other’s last name. It’s all good.
Just found http://www.getyournameback.com. Looks like the same service recommended in the post, but for divorces.
Start using both names now. Either use First Yourlast Marriedlast or First Yourlast-Marriedlast or First Marriedlast Yourlast, or whatever else makes you happy. Keep both in your signature and letterheard and business cards for a while (maybe a year?). Slowly let the Married name drop off. Start introducing yourself right now as the name you want to use going forward. Have emails for both, but always respond to people with the email that has the name you want going forward.
After sufficient time has passed (again, maybe a year?), update your business cards and any other printed materials and email signature to have First Maiden.
Hi, I wanted to let you know there is an interesting new service at http://www.simplenamechange.com – it actually helps with quick name change after divorce. (Works both for married or divorce name change) :)
The hyphen works with short or common last names like Madeline Ross-Smith. My name would be Porphyria Lockmeyer-Schuckman. People would say “why the heck did she add her maiden name – the name is so long”. I really want to get rid of my married name so I’m thinking that communications to clients will now be from “Porphyria Lockmeyer (same person-new name)”. And emails will receive an automated response something like “Please be advised that your email has been redirected to [email protected]. Please note that Ms. Schuckman now uses the surname Lockmeyer. Please use this name and email address for future communications. This was the best method i could think of, please give me your feedback. Thanks much.
I got Divorce 5 years ago and I told my Ex to change her Leanne back to hers but I found out she didn’t. I don’t really want her carrying my last name. I have three kids with her… WHat should I do.? I don’t really want her to CarryMY LAT NAME. I’m 30 now
I’m so glad I found this site and all these helpful comments. I would love input on my situation. I was married for 7 years to Husband 1 and we had two great kids. We then got a divorce. I kept his name, until…I re-married Husband 2 and after much thought and talking it over with my kids, decided to take his name. (It was important to him and I loved him!). Well, now we’ve been separated for a year and half. I live with my two kids who have my first husband’s name and I have this other name. I feel like I don’t “belong”. The schools and kid’s friends all call me by my kids last name. I want to go back to my previous name, but its my first husband’s name. It has nothing to do with husband 1, and everything to do with my kids and my lost sense of identity. Professionally, I don’t know….it’s going to be a HUGE pain. Any advice?
I wonder if anyone can answer this question? If you own property in your married name, you’re divorced and the proceeds from the sale of the property are legally designated to your married name within 8months shortly after the divorce, and you legally changed back to your maiden name, would you still be able to receive the profits?
First off I want to say great blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing. I’ve had trouble
clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.
I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying
to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Kudos!
My name is Lydia I have been rejected by my husband after 6 years of marriage just because of another woman. And he left me and the kid to suffer. One day when i was reading through the internet, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address [email protected] have help a girl to get back her Boyfriend and i email the address and he told me that he will help me and after 4 days that i will have my husband back. I believed him because of his polite approach and sincerity and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster has the power to bring lovers back because i am now happy with my husband.
Greeting to everyone that is reading my comment, All Thanks goes to dr.Perfect, i was married to my husband, and we were living fine and happy. it come to an extend that my husband that use to love and care for me, those not have my time again, until i fined at that he was having an affair with another woman, i try to stop him,all my effort was in-vain suddenly he divorce me and went for the woman. he live me with two of our kids, i cry all day, i was in pains, sorrow and looking for help. i was reading a news paper, i saw how dr. Perfect help people with his love and reuniting spell. so i decided to contact him and explain my problem to him, he did a love spell that make my husband to come back to me and our kids and never think of the woman. this man is god sent to restore heart break and reunite relationship. may the lord be your strength and continue to use you to save people relationship and any problem they encounter contact him for help on [email protected] ,i promise you that he will put a smile on your face and make you feel happy. good luck.