Should You Change Your Last Name When Getting a Divorce?

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Deciding whether to change your last name during a divorce is a personal one that depends on your situation. There are no legal benefits to doing so, but there is important things to keep in mind if you do.

Divorce: Are You Keeping Your Last Name?

The choice of changing your last name after a divorce is a highly personal one. In short, there’s no law in Oregon that requires you to change your name after divorcing your spouse. You’re free to continue using your husband’s last name, revert to your maiden name, or change it to something entirely new.

Advantages vs Disadvantages of Changing Your Name

There is no legal benefit or advantage to changing your name, asides from a personal one. Some women have been using their husband’s last name for so long that it may feel strange to change it. On the other hand, the name may be a negative stigma for you. In this situation, you may want to consider changing it during your divorce. Often the decision is dependent upon whether you have children and what their last name is. Many parents choose to continue to have the last name of their children.

It should be noted that the easiest time to change your name as party of the divorce proceedings. While you can make changes after the divorce has ended, it is more difficult to do so because you have to file a separate Petition for Name Change

Keep in mind that while changing your name during divorce may be simple, the things you must do afterward aren’t:

Things that must be updated include:

  • Driver’s license, passport, social security card, etc.
  • Vehicle title
  • Health insurance
  • Financials including bank account, credit card, retirement accounts, loans, and bills.
  • Memberships and subscriptions

As you can see, changing your last name is no small decision and will most likely involve a bit of legwork afterward.

Changing Your Children’s Last Name

Traditionally, courts have held that children can keep their father’s last name providing he maintains his obligations as a parent. Nowadays, a mother can request that the children’s last names are changed during divorce. It should be noted however that divorce alone isn’t enough of a reason for a court to grant a change of your child’s name. If the father does not sign off on the request, then you’ll need to convince the court why they should allow it. This is a very uphill battle.

In general, family law will favor decisions that benefit the child. They will review numerous factors including the child’s relation with his or her parents as well as weigh the pros and cons of the change. Depending on the child’s age, the court may take their thoughts into consideration as well. A child custody attorney can assist you with the process. But what it will ultimately come down to is whether the name change is beneficial to the child or not.

Hobson / Oram Law

Hobson Oram Law