When a couple decides to end their marriage in divorce, it creates a new set of demands on both spouses, such as figuring out their financial, child custody, and spousal support issues. With these major issues on the horizon, changing your name back might seem like the least of your priorities. However, for many women, restoring their maiden name is important as it gives them a sense of freedom and purpose.
Many women who changed their last name when getting married frequently want to change it back to their maiden name after a divorce. In fact, in Los Angeles County, part of getting divorced typically involves changing back to your maiden name. Not every woman wants to change her name, especially if she has children, but it has become increasingly common to do so.
This is an easy process in Los Angeles County, though the precise steps will depend on whether your divorce has been finalized or not. It's important to note you can change your name during or after a divorce in California. If the family court has finalized your divorce, you just need to complete an application requesting the judge to restore your former name.
You can find the application online or just ask the clerk's office for the form. This process is commonly known as an “Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order.” To make this request, you have to give the clerk of the court the date of the filing, case number, and stamped petition. It typically takes a few weeks to process your request.
If you need more detailed information or assistance with the process of restoring your maiden name, or changing your child's last name, contact our Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys at Furman & Zavatsky LLP. Now that we have covered a general overview of changing your name back, let's take a closer look at the specific details below on everything you need to know about changing your name after a California divorce.
If Your Divorce Has Not Yet Finalized
If your divorce has not yet been finalized by the Los Angeles County family court, you can still ask the court restore your maiden name. How? When you submit your Judgment form about your divorce, include a request to restore your maiden name at the same time. Our divorce lawyers can give you the information you need about on how exactly to complete this request.
Once the family law court finalizes your divorce, then the decree will include an official order that restores your maiden name. This will serve as all the documentation you will need to put your former married name in the past forever.
Again, this is a pretty straightforward as you can simply ask the judge to restore your final name as part of the divorce decree. Just include this information in your proposed Judgment. If you have a divorce lawyer, then they can include this request when drafting the Judgment. But if you are handling your own divorce, you can include the request in the fill-in-the-blank Judgment form that the court has.
If Your Divorce Has Been Finalized
Let's say your divorce has already been completed, but you suddenly realize you want to go back to your former name. In that situation, you should:
- Find the name of the court that divorced you. Go through your paperwork or contact the attorney who handled your case.
- Find your case number and a copy of the judgment. You will need this information.
- Complete Form FL-395, which you can download from the Internet. It is the ex parte motion form.
- Include a self-addressed and stamped envelope so that the completed paperwork can be returned to you.
- Contact the court clerk and ask how to submit the paperwork. You might be able to mail it to the court or even drop it off in person.
Requesting a change back to your former name is pretty standard, which is why you can submit an ex parte motion that does not require a hearing. Talk to the clerk about how long it takes for the request to go through. Generally, you can expect to wait 2 to 4 weeks, though the precise amount of time for your court varies.
Problems rarely arise, but if they do, you should reach out to an experienced Los Angeles divorce attorney for assistance.
If You Received an Out-of-State Divorce
Some people divorce and then move to California. If you are now a resident of the Golden State but want to change your name, you have some additional hurdles. Since a California court did not divorce you, it does not have the power to grant the name change as part of a divorce.
Instead, you should contact the court that divorced you. If you were divorced in Ohio, for example, then reach out to the court that issued the divorce and speak to the court clerk. Ask about the process of changing back to a former name. There may be paperwork you can fill out and mail in.
California residents also have the option of completing a regular Petition for Change of Name. You can find an information packet online or by stopping into your nearest court. This is the process everyone uses to change a name outside of divorce. You'll need to complete the following forms:
- Petition for Change of Name (Form NC-100)
- Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Form NC-110)
- Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (Form NC-120)
- Civil Case Cover Sheet
- Decree Changing Name (Form NC-130)
There may be other local forms required by the court. Once you complete everything, you can file it with the court clerk. You will also need to alert the public that you are changing your name, so you will need to publish the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name in a newspaper for several weeks in a row. Check with the court for a list of acceptable publications. You will also need to provide proof that you published the Order to Show Cause.
Someone might object to the name change, though this is highly unlikely. If no one objects, then you might get your name change request granted without a hearing.
After you have successfully restored your former name, you will then need to take steps to changing your name on other official documents. Just like you did when you were first married and changed your name, you will have to complete the proper paperwork to change your name back in the system.
This would include changing your name on your driver's license, social security card (Form SS-5), and all financial accounts. You will be able to use your divorce decree with the name change order as proof of the name change.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Divorce Attorney
There are many considerations in a divorce, one of which is the name you want to use when you are finally single again. Helpfully, the name change process is not terribly complicated in California for most people.
If you have a question about divorce, you need a seasoned advocate by your side. We have over a decade of combined experience helping men and women navigate the state's divorce courts, and we are here to assist you. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call 818-528-3471 or fill out this contact sheet.
Furman & Zavatsky LLP
Los Angeles Divorce and Family Law Attorneys
15821 Ventura Blvd #690
Encino, CA 91436