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Changing Your Name After Divorce

The period following divorce is often viewed as a chance to start over. Some people choose to relocate and construct new careers and social lives. Others give their homes a good cleaning and discard certain possessions that remind them of turbulent times.

In discarding the past and making a fresh break, many people seek to change their names. Traditionally, when a man and woman marry, the woman takes the man’s last name in place of her maiden name. Name changes are symbolic and can represent independence.

Before considering a name change, however, it is important to be aware of what exactly such a change entails. Taking a different last name is not as simple as just signing your name differently. Instead, there are specific ways to go about changing your last name. In California, the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (Form FL-100) and Response (Form FL-120) contain sections where you can request that your maiden name be restored. This is probably the simplest way to change your name.

What if your divorce judgment has already been entered by the court? Not to worry; you can still file a form called an Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name after Entry of Judgment or Order (FL-395).

Changing your name during or after divorce is usually a straightforward process. If your case is more complicated, however, consult an attorney in your area to learn how you too can make a fresh start with a name change.