Name Change After Divorce? 8 Considerations

Hello! My Name Is Name Tag
What name will you choose?

Name changes are funny things. If you’re reading this, chances are good, the last time you changed your name you anticipated the beginning of a long and happy life with the man of your dreams.

But life is seldom a fairy tale.

Or maybe it is! Have you ever really considered the tragedy of most fairy tales???

The difference is that fairy tales have happy endings.

Real life marriages, for a variety of reasons, sometimes end differently.

And then, many are left considering a name change in some form. Most women who make a name change return to their maiden names. Others make an entirely different name change after divorce choosing a clean slate by picking a different name all together.

Whether you think you will someday change your name after divorce or not, be certain that your divorce decree gives you the right to do so.

Many women feel imprisoned by child care obligations (An “obligation” carried out with love and joy), geographical boundaries, and financial burdens. Before the divorce is final, be sure your documentation gives you the freedom to make a name change if you decide to one day so you are not chained by name as well.

Before deciding on a name change, here are some things to consider.

Should I Make a Name Change After Divorce?

  1. Professional Consideration – How will contacts locate you? Most clients will not look down on you for changing to your maiden name after divorce, but they may have a hard time finding you, especially clients who have been out of touch for a while.
  2. Certifications & Licenses – If documents are in your married name and you are interviewing for a position, they may open the door to questions. For most people, interviewing is stressful enough without personal questions. Be prepared to explain a name change succinctly and unemotionally.
  3. Successive Name Changes – Remarriage may be the last thing on your mind as you navigate divorce, but many women eventually hope to find “the One” again. If you will be taking your new husband’s name, think of how yet another name change will affect your life and the lives of those around you (Don’t base your life on this, but it is something that should be considered so you are not taken off guard).
  4. Other People – Right or wrong, be prepared to respond to those who question or comment on your name change, from innocently curious small children to obnoxiously judgmental adults.
  5. Other Obligations – Name changes can be “just one more issue to deal with” when life already seems overwhelming. You will need to change your name for social security, driver’s license, passports, credit cards, taxes, voter registration, Veteran’s Administration, utilities, certifications, employment references and more. It might be best to wait until life settles down before tackling one more project.
  6. The Reason Behind the Name Change – If your name change is to reflect your new freedom and re-birth, then a name change may be a good idea. If your name change is out of anger or bitterness, it may be best to wait. Actions performed in anger and haste are often regretted. A name change does not measure your ability to get over your divorce. Divorce leaves lasting scars that need healing beyond the sweep of a pen.
  7. Your children – If your children bear your ex-husband’s name, consider their reactions. When a parent chooses to leave his (Please substitute “her/she” when applicable!) marriage, he is not just choosing to leave the spouse. He is choosing to spend at least one half his life without his children. Children often experience abandonment issues after divorce. Consider whether your name change will also feel like abandonment to them. I am not saying they will or that a name change is abandonment! I am saying put the children first. Consider how they will view your decisions and how your decisions affect them!  
  8. Consider What the Lord Says – As far as I know, the Bible and Catholic doctrine do not dictate a name change after divorce; however, taking some time to prayerfully speak with the Lord and to listen for His whispered responses can provide peace to divorced Christians whatever decision they make .

Divorce is a traumatic experience. The Bible and Catholic doctrine tell us marriage is forever. When marriage ends, there is often a strong desire to either dig your heels in and stay stuck in the past or to rapidly jump into a new future.

Taking you time and turning to the healing power of the Holy Spirit can help divorced Christians heal and faithfully, purposefully, and confidently move toward the next stage in life. A name change may or may not be one part of this healing.

Please join me tomorrow to discover whether I decided to change my name after divorce. (Link available after 3/25/14 8:00 AM EST)

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God Bless…