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Name Change After Divorce


photo of a hand filling out paperworkMany people wish to change their last name from their married name back to their maiden name after a New Jersey divorce. If you want to resume the use of your maiden name after a New Jersey divorce, there are several ways to do so.

The first and easiest way to resume the use of your maiden name is to include your request to do so in your initial divorce complaint, or, if your spouse is the person who filed for divorce, in your counterclaim.

If you do not include the request to resume the use of your maiden name in your complaint or counterclaim, you can amend the complaint or counterclaim to include it. You can also wait until the final hearing and request to resume the use of your maiden name at that point. Generally, as long as you are not changing your name to commit fraud, for example to avoid creditors, the request will likely be granted.

You are permitted to start using your maiden name in your personal life at any time before the final judgment of divorce is entered by the New Jersey family court. However, government entities, for example the Department of Motor Vehicles, will still only recognize you with your married name and will only allow you to use your married name for purposes of their documents, for example the way your name appears on your driver’s license. In order to use your maiden name with government entities, you will need to provide the government agency with the court order allowing the name change.

If you wish to keep your married name, you are permitted to do that as well. There is nothing in the law compelling you to resume use of your maiden name. Additionally, your ex-spouse cannot force you to change to your maiden name, nor can your ex-spouse prevent you from doing so.

Sometimes after divorce, custodial parents wish to change the child’s last name as well. However, if you wish to change your child’s name, the process is much different and much more difficult than changing your own last name. Additionally, it cannot be done during the divorce process in the same way that changing your own last name can.

To change your child’s last name, you need to notify the child’s other parent of your intention to change your child’s last name. If the other parent does not consent, then the court, after the filing of the appropriate application, can make a finding that the name change is in the child’s best interests pursuant to an eleven factor test.

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