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How to Change Your Name At the Time of or After Your Divorce

Many people want to change their surname at the time of their divorce. This brief guide can help you navigate the requirements in Virginia for obtaining a legal name change. Whether you’re at the beginning or end of your divorce proceedings, here are some important steps related to changing your name and updating important personal documentation.

Include the Name Change as Part of Your Divorce

If your divorce proceedings are not complete, ask your family lawyer or divorce attorney to include the request for the name change in your Complaint for Divorce or submit a motion to include your name change as part of the divorce proceedings and to submit a separate Name Change Order in conjunction with the Final Order of Divorce. Sometimes referred to as a divorce decree, a Final Order of Divorce is the legal document that officially ends your marriage and outlines the terms of your divorce. Virginia requires a separate Name Change Order to legally change your name which can be submitted for entry and entered at the same time as the Final Order of Divorce or within 21 days of the Divorce Order being signed. Once the judge signs the Name Change Order, this document serves as an official record of your name change. You should secure several certified copies of the Name Change Order to send as proof in order to get your name changed on your driver’s license, bank accounts, credit cards, Social Security card and more.

File a Separate Name Change Petition

If you desire your name change right away and don’t want to wait for a divorce to be granted or your Final Order of Divorce has already been signed by a judge, then you will need to file a separate name change action with the court. The process involves filing a sworn petition with the required information and a corresponding Name Change Order for entry by a judge. The cost of the name change petition, if not done contemporaneously with the divorce, is slightly higher, and involves an additional pleading, so many people opt to do the name change in conjunction with the divorce, but if that is not possible or preferred, filing a separate name change petition is not overly complicated.

Your family lawyer can help you work through these necessary steps both during or after the divorce process, so you may want to consult with your attorney for the best course of action and the options available to you. They can also assist you with determining the steps for effecting your name change with respect to your various methods of identification (social security, driver’s license etc.), real property and more.

Our team at Hite Kaminsky Family Law is highly skilled and experienced at helping valued clients navigate their divorce proceedings, including desired name changes. For more information on our services and how we can assist you with your divorce, contact us today!