Author: Katlyn Peterson
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Did you speed to the altar and change your name after saying, “I Do”? You’re not alone! Around 70% of women in the US and 90% in the UK changed their names after their nuptials, according to the Pew Research Center. Now if the heart-eyes fizzled, and the marriage has gone kaput, you’ll want a clean slate and start fresh with a new romance. Before you start swiping for matches, you may want to learn how to change your name. So what’s involved in the process?
1. Divorce decree and legal documentation
The first thing you’ll need in the process of changing your name is your divorce decree.
Once your divorce has been finalized, you will receive a decree that’s essentially the final summary of the divorce proceedings as handled by a court of law. Think of it as your “change your name green card” — you’ll want to hold onto it tightly. In the event that you lose it, you can obtain a copy through your local government office. In the US, the CDC actually has a handy per-state list of vital documentation offices. If you’re reclaiming your maiden name, you’ll want to grab any old legal documents that reflect this in case there’s additional proof required. Although your birth certificate should be sufficient, it’s best to have contingencies.
2. Notify legal agencies
Once you’ve got the paperwork, it’s time to send it coursing through the proper legal channels. This means getting in touch with the Social Security Administration (SSA) in person or through the mail. You’ll be required to fill out an SS-5 form, which is the application for a new social security card, and support it with necessary paperwork like proof of name change, proof of identity, proof of citizenship, and your old social security card. Once that’s done, you should receive a new card with your new name after two weeks or so. A bonus is that the SSA also notifies the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of any name changes — so paying any future taxes won’t hit a snag.
3. Update everything!
Once you’ve got your new name secured and a new social security card to boot, it’s time to update everything that’s got your old name on it. You can start the process to have your new name displayed on your driver’s license, your passport, your voter’s registration, and your bank records. Other areas you may want to update are your postal records, employee records, and utility records. The beauty of doing a name change in the modern age is that a lot of these can be done online. You’ll simply need to go to the necessary websites, fill in the forms, and provide scanned evidence.
Changing your name after divorce isn’t complicated. It’s a simple matter of knowing where to go and what sort of paperwork you need to bring along. After all is said and done, you’ll be signing your old married name away — along with all the bad memories and feelings attached to it. There will be nothing stopping you from being fabulous and single — and ready to mingle — all the while proudly bearing the name that you’ve chosen.
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After almost a decade working in family law, Katlyn decided to take a step back to spend more time with her family. Today, she enjoys contributing to a range of websites, sharing her personal and professional knowledge on the topics that matter to her.
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