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What's In A Name?

By Snyder & Sarno on August 06, 2014


While there are many big issues to deal with when getting divorced, including the division of property, child custody, or alimony, to name a few, there is a small detail that many women don’t think about when they consider a divorce.  If you took your husband’s last name when you got married, what is your last name after your divorce is finalized?

The Huffington Post recently reported that while many women return to their maiden names upon divorce, others are deciding to choose new last names altogether.  For instance, they may choose the last name of a maternal grandmother or other close family member.  Others choose to hyphenate their maiden name and their husband’s last name, or just stick with their husband’s last name.  Name changes can be a hassle, especially when it comes to changing records, such as a driver’s license, social security card, or even bank account.

This decision may be simpler for a woman who gets divorced and has no children, but it can become much more complicated if children are involved.  Some women change their children’s last names after getting divorced, whether the change is to their maiden name, or is a combination of last names from the mother and father.  Choosing whether or not to change the children’s last names can be a very important decision.  When parents and children have different last names it can cause confusion and delay when it comes to school or medical records, for example. 

In New Jersey, the law allows either spouse to change their name as part of the divorce proceeding according to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-21.  Typically, the person requesting the name change must answer a few questions before the judge to make sure that the individual is not trying to change their name to avoid criminal prosecution or creditors.  An individual may also request a name change even after his or her divorce has already been finalized.  Changing a child’s name, however, cannot be done as part of the divorce and requires a separate name-change proceeding.

Name changes as part of a divorce, or following a divorce, can be complicated, just as the various other aspects involved in getting divorced.  If you want to divorce your spouse or already are going through a divorce, it is smart to consult with an attorney to help navigate the confusing legal proceedings.  The experienced matrimonial attorneys at Snyder & Sarno, LLC can help.  Contact us today at (973) 274-5200.  

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