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 September 7, 2012 |

For some women, signing the divorce papers might be one of the last times they use the name they took when they got married. Each year, countless women in Louisiana and across the United States revert to their maiden names, or a previous married name they used, after a divorce. But how complex a process is that?

Not very. For women who decide before their divorce to change their name, the divorce judge can include in the paperwork, as the dissolution is finalized, a statement recognizing a previous last name.

The more time-consuming task is changing all of the documents a person accumulates throughout a lifetime to a different name. The official government records — driver’s license, Social Security card and passport — should take priority over all others. A passport also can include the previous married name which could be helpful to verify identity in the future.

Before heading out to the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Social Security Administration office, women should call or check the website to make sure which documents they should have in their possession. They likely will want to see the divorce decree where a judge makes it official. With more cases of identity theft popping up, it is for the protection of women.

Other contacts women should make to change a name include the post office, human resources offices at their employer, banks, credit card companies, utilities, the schools their children attend, the Registrar of Voters and the welfare office, if applicable. Any wills or trust accounts also should reflect a new name.

It also is possible to adopt an entirely new name, but that process is more complex. A family law attorney should be consulted first to advise an individual about the proper steps to follow. Either way, a new name, or an old name being refreshed, represents a new start to a new chapter in life.

Source: Washington Times, “What’s in a name? Changing your name after divorce,” Myra Chack Fleischer, Aug. 28, 2012

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