Deciding whether to change your last name is an incredibly personal decision. You will want to think about it before your divorce is finalized. As part of your divorce, your attorney can include your name change in the paperwork. But if you wait until after your divorce, then you have to bring a new court action to change your name. Below is a list of factors to consider when deciding whether to change your last name.
How Long Have You Had Your Current Last Name?
If you have only been using your current last name for a few years, it might make sense to change it back. You may not feel as strongly connected to it as your previous last name. Your friends and family might still think of you more by your previous last name than by your current last name. But if you have had your current last name for decades, you may want to keep it. By that point, many people only know you by your current last name. They are not familiar with your previous last name. You also might have more personal attachment to it yourself.
How Will Changing Your Name Impact Your Career?
Changing back to your previous last name might create some career challenges. Especially if you have worked to build a network under your current last name. You will want to consider how important name recognition is to advancing your career. Even if name recognition is important, you can still change your last name. There are ways you can make the transition easier. Such as by putting your married name in parentheses in your email signature and professional directories. This will help people make the connection between your two last names.
Do You Want to Have the Same Last Name as Your Children?
A lot of people are concerned about how changing their last name might impact their children. While your children are important, your needs and desires are important too. People often think having different last names will be confusing. They worry about interacting with schools and doctors’ offices. These days there many blended families and lots of kids who do not share a last name with one parent. Organizations are easily able figure out which child and parent belong together. The logistics of different last names are not difficult to manage.
Parents worry about their children’s emotions if they had different last names. This is usually an assumption made without talking to the children. You can have an age appropriate conversation with your children about their feelings. Your children may not care either way. Or they may have strong opinions. But ultimately, this is the last name that you have to wear and carry through life. If it is not the right last name for you, you can still make the decision to change back to your previous name. Your children will adjust like they adjust to other changes in life.
Why Did You Change Your Last Name When You Got Married?
Some of the reasons you changed your last name in the first place might be applicable to your decision now. For example, when you got married, you may have wanted a symbolic representation of starting a new phase in life. That same reasoning can apply to changing your name after divorce. In contrast, you may have never felt strongly connected to your birth last name. You might identify more with your current last name. If you were glad for the opportunity to change your last name, then changing it back might not make sense.
Do You Want to Put in the Effort to Change Your Last Name?
The legal part of changing your last name is simple. It is one sentence that gets written into your divorce decree. But the administrative part of changing your last name can be burdensome. You have to do the reverse process of what you did when you got married. You are going to have to change it on your social security card, passport, and financial records. You will also need to change it at work and with professional or social organizations. All that can be a lot of work. If you know you do not want to deal with that hassle, then you may want to keep your current last name. Especially if you know you will not get around to doing all those things. Having your name changed in some records but not others can lead to complications.
There is no one right decision on whether you should change your last name. But you should give it the consideration it deserves so you make the decision that is right for you. Porchlight is here to help you move forward whichever name you choose. To get started on your divorce, call 678-435-9069 to schedule a Legal Clarity Session.