How to Change Your Last Name Back After Legal Separation


Many wives choose to take their husbands' surnames following marriage. Likewise, a divorce or legal separation often leads to the restoration of a woman's maiden name. The definition (and legal implications) of separation varies state to state but generally signifies that you and your spouse have ceased cohabiting for a certain period of time. Name change laws vary state to state, but there are some general guidelines you can follow in order to legally enact the change. You must file paperwork with your local court to officially change your name, and you must adopt the change to official records and institutions, such as banks and schools.

  • Obtain the requisite documents from your county courthouse. The specific documents needed will vary widely depending on your particular jurisdiction, but generally you will need, at minimum, a Petition for Change of Name form.

  • Furnish proof of your original name, including passport (if it still bears your maiden name), birth certificate, social security card, old tax paperwork and other identifying documents.

  • File the documents with the County Clerk and pay any required filing fees. Make additional copies of your documents as per the instructions of your jurisdiction. At this point, you may be given a date on which to appear in court before a judge.

  • Appear in court as scheduled. Generally, you will have no problems changing your name as long as you are reverting back to your original name and not trying to adopt an entirely new surname.

  • Notify relevant institutions of your new legal name if the petition is granted. Such institutions include banks, creditors, tax authorities, the Social Security Administration, etc. Update your identifying documents, such as passport and driver's license. If you're engaged in divorce proceedings, make sure to update related documents with your new name as well.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you plan on getting divorced, it may be easier to wait until the divorce is finalized to change your name. Most states allow divorce petitioners to request that the judge issue a name change order as part of the final divorce decree.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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