Can I still continue to use my married name if the divorce decree states I’m going back to my maiden name?

UPDATED: Jun 20, 2011

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Can I still continue to use my married name if the divorce decree states I’m going back to my maiden name?

I just recently got divorced and the divorce decree states that I am assuming my maiden name back. I have changed my mind and decided to keep my married name so as to avoid being known by multiple names. Can I still use my married name without going back to the court for modification of the decree? If not, how long do I have to change back to my maiden name? Is there a time restriction?

Asked on June 20, 2011 under Family Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot use your married name if the divorce decree states that you will not; otherwise, you would be in breach of the decree, which could result in your husband being able to sue you to enforce it and, worse, possibly justify him in not fulfiling his obligations (e.g. paying any support due you) under the decree, because of your breach.

As for how long: if the decree does not set a timeline or deadline, there is no firm answer, but generally, you would be held to the standard of making "reasonable" efforts to do so. When sufficient time has passed that any delays or failure no longer appear reasonable, that would be when your now-ex-husband would be able to bring a legal action due to your default.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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