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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.


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