Though it may be a detraction to the anger, fear and depression that comes with divorce, many women spend days or even weeks agonizing over this one question: Should I return to maiden name when I divorce?
The answer is a very personal private decision that only you can make. There is no right or wrong answer. Changing your name is a very important decision each of us makes when we divorce. If you decide to change your name, be sure that it is put in your divorce decree. If you choose at a later date, you will need to pay a fee and go to court. There are just as many reasons to keep your married name as there are to change it.
Keeping your married name is simple, you do not need to change anything.
Returning to your maiden name after divorce:
Changing your name will take some effort. Some people may think it’s too big of a hassle while others believe it’s a breeze. You will need to have a few copies of your divorce decree stating your name change. The first two items that need to be changed is your drivers license and social security number. It is usually easier to change your social security number first, and the DMV may require it. You will need to change all of the forms related to your work. You’ll also need to change your name on life and health insurance policies, vehicle registrations, school records (yours and your children’s), utility companies, and all financial records including banks, stocks, bonds, credit cards and any other creditors that you may have.
Things to consider when pondering the question, should I return to my maiden name?
1. What does your married and maiden name mean to you?
You may have a strong attachment to one name or another. You might hate or love your married or maiden name. Maybe your father abandoned you as a child so you don’t want to return to his name. On the other hand, maybe you had a loving kind father that is your rock so you choose to return to your maiden name. You may feel negative energy around your married name and feel that it keeps you connected to your ex. You may choose to go back to your maiden name because you believe it will empower you to find your identity and reclaim your life, it could be your declaration of independence. On the other hand you may feel as if your married name is who you are, especially if you were in a long-term marriage. The thought of changing your name makes you feel like you are erasing part of your life.
2. Are there children involved?
You should not let your children decide for you, however you may want to discuss a potential name change with them. Some children, both young and old have very strong feelings about what your name is. You might want to discuss it with them - especially if you have a moody teen that already feels like it is their fault that you are divorcing. Changing your name may make your child feel like you do not want to be identified with them. You may choose to keep your married name so that you have the same name as your young children. On the other hand, if your children are adults it may be easier to return to your maiden name. Another thing to keep in mind, is that if you ever do decide to remarry, you might be changing your name again anyway.
3. Will it affect your professional reputation?
This is definitely something to consider. If you are a high-powered attorney, doctor or reputable real-estate agent that has developed a strong reputation with your married name, changing it could be damaging to your career. Some women opt to keep their married for their profession and their maiden name for personal, however this might become confusing. Teachers may choose to keep their married name, because they don’t want to try to teach their children a new name. The children are comfortable, calling you Mrs. Meyers and it might confuse them if you all of a sudden become Ms. Shaeffer. There also may be professional reasons to return to your maiden name. My married name was extremely rare. There are only about 50 listings in all of the United States and they are all related. As I worked in social services and at times dealt with violent criminals, I choose to return to my maiden name so that I could not be easily found.
Regardless if you choose to return to your maiden name or not, know that your name does not really define you. You are a beautiful being who deserves all the best that life has to offer. Follow your heart and do what feels right for you, because that is the correct answer for you.