Restoration of a Former Name Following a Dissolution of Marriage

Following a divorce, many former spouses wish to reassume their maiden names. While this process can be simple if undertaken during divorce proceedings, it can require a significant amount of paperwork if delayed. If you are in the process of ending your marriage or have already been granted a divorce and you wish to have your former name restored, an experienced family law attorney can ensure that the process is completed correctly and your stress is minimized.

Final Judgment of Dissolution

One method of having a former name restored is to request it within the original petition or counter-petition for a dissolution of marriage. When the court enters the final judgment for dissolution, it includes a provision restoring the name that the spouse carried prior to the marriage.

However, if a spouse does not request a name change during the divorce proceedings, he or she must ask the court to reopen the case. Judges have discretion in deciding whether or not to issue an amendment to a final judgment of a dissolution of marriage document, so if a judge declines to reopen the case, the former spouse must submit a petition for a name change.

Filing a Name Change Petition

In order to file a name change petition, a petitioner must collect a series of documents that show proof of identity, which may include:

  • A passport;
  • A state driver’s license;
  • A birth certificate;
  • Relevant hospital records;
  • An adoption decree; or
  • A certified copy of a Florida divorce decree.

These documents are meant to reveal specific identifying information about the petitioner, including:

  • Confirmation that he or she is a resident of Florida;
  • The date and place of birth as well as the names of his or her parents;
  • The names and ages of any children;
  • Whether there is evidence of a previous name change;
  • His or her occupation and educational background;
  • Whether he or she has ever filed for bankruptcy; and
  • Whether he or she has a criminal record.

The court will also confirm that the petitioner is not seeking a name change for an illegal purpose and that granting the restoration of the name will not invade the property rights, such as a claim to a copyright, of someone else.

Unlike petitioners who are attempting to change their names to something completely new, former spouses who only wish to reassume their old names are not required to submit fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or undergo a background check. This significantly shortens the waiting period for obtaining an official name change. Furthermore, hearings on petitions for the restoration of a former name are held immediately after the petition is filed.

The process of filing a name change petition can be complex, even if the petitioner is attempting to restore a prior name. If you are considering a divorce or have already been granted a dissolution of marriage, and are interested in restoring your maiden name, please contact the experienced West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein to schedule a free initial consultation.