Can I keep my married name after a divorce?

I had requested my maiden name back in my divorce decree. The judge granted the decree and the divorce has been finalized. Now I don’t want to have to change my SS card, drivers license, etc. Am I required to change back to my maiden name since I requested it, or can I leave it the same?

Asked on October 31, 2011 under Family Law, Nebraska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, divorcing does not require you to change your name, whether back to your maiden name or indeed to any other name, any more than marrying requires a woman to adopt or take her husband's name (many women do not, for example).

However, if it states in your divorce decree or in a voluntarily agreed to divorce settlement that you would resume your maiden name, you have to do so--a decree is a court order, and a settlement is a contract, and both are enforceable as per their terms. So if the decree says you have to take you maiden name, you need to do this, unless you can get the court to modify its decree. You may try to get the court to modify or change its decree by bringing a motion for it to modify the decree. An attorney can help you with this.

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