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Name change after divorce checklist and a few helpful tips

Two rings over the words divorce

Women want to change their last names after divorce for various reasons. Some women simply prefer their maiden names to their married names, while others like the idea of changing their names to something entirely new. If you want a fresh start, changing your name after divorce can be a good first step toward the next phase of life. Check out common FAQs and our name change after divorce checklist below.

Is getting a name change after divorce hard?

Fortunately, changing a last name after divorce is pretty easy in Texas, provided you request the name change at the outset of your divorce and the “new” name is one you’ve used before (i.e., your maiden name). If you want to change your name to one you have NOT used before, that request will require a special hearing and need to be handled outside of your divorce case (see below).

Since a divorce name change is a common request, most reputable divorce attorneys in Fort Worth will ask clients whether they would like to request a name change early on. That way the attorney can include the name change paperwork with the petition for divorce (or answer to a petition for divorce).

The judge overseeing your case will consider the request for name change along with other requests you make during the divorce, like requests for spousal support, property division, child custody and visitation, etc. If the judge approves your name change request, the approved name change will be included in your Final Decree of Divorce.

If for some reason your attorney neglected to include your name change request with your petition for divorce, you may be able to amend your petition for divorce. In Texas, the request to amend must occur at least 30 days prior to your trial date. 

How to change your last name after divorce in Texas

One of the most common questions we hear from women post-divorce is, “How do I change my name after divorce?” Some women decide to keep their married names, and then change their minds months or years later. One of the most common reasons women don’t change their last names during divorce is because they share children with their ex husband. 

This makes sense for a couple of reasons. It’s one less change that kids need to adapt to, and it simplifies things at school, the doctor’s office and elsewhere. Mom doesn’t need to explain why she and her child have different last names.

In Texas, if you have been divorced for some time and want to change your last name later, you will need to file an Original Petition for Change of Name in the county where you reside. In order to make the name change official, you will need to schedule a hearing and appear in court, where a judge will need to approve your request through a court order.

When would the court deny a request for a name change in Texas?

During your hearing, the judge will want to make sure you’re not requesting a name change to avoid creditors or make it difficult for people to find you (say you’re doing something illegal or have a warrant out for your arrest). He or she may also deny your request if you are a convicted felon, unless you can prove:

  • You’ve received a pardon.
  • You were discharged from prison and/or completed probation a minimum of two years prior.
  • The new name you have requested is the primary name used in your criminal records.

The judge may also deny your request if you have been required to register as a sex offender, unless you can prove you notified local law enforcement of your name change request. Ask your attorney how these guidelines may apply to you.

Can I change my child’s last name during divorce?

You can’t change your child’s last name directly through a petition for divorce in Texas. 

How to change last name after divorce for your child in Texas: In order to legally change your child’s last name you will need to submit a Petition to Change the Name of a Child, request a hearing and appear before a judge.

The process isn’t that complicated if both parents (and any other legally interested parties, like a non-parent, managing conservator—such as a grandparent) agree to the name change. If the child is age 10 or above, you will also need to get his or her written consent to the name change.

When all parties are NOT in agreement about changing a child’s last name, you will need to jump through more hoops. You will also need to present a compelling case to the judge to show that the name change is in the child’s best interest. 

Whether everyone is on board or not, it’s best to consult a family law attorney to guide you through the process of changing a child’s last name after divorce. 

Name change after divorce checklist

After you have officially and legally changed your name, it’s important to take steps to update your name with government and financial institutions.

Here’s a checklist to get you started: Name-Change Checklist

Have questions about changing your name after divorce in Tarrant County?

If you need advice from a family law attorney, Fort Worth and surrounding communities, the Sisemore Law Firm team is here to help. We can answer your questions about divorce, child custody, property division and how to change your name after divorce.

To speak with a member of our team or schedule a confidential consultation with our founder Justin Sisemore, contact us. You can reach our Fort Worth law firm at (817) 336-4444 or connect with us online.

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