If my divorce is about to be finalized, can my soon-to-be ex nowchange her maiden name to mine?

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If my divorce is about to be finalized, can my soon-to-be ex nowchange her maiden name to mine?

I filed for no-fault divorce in 4 months ago. My wife refused to sign the papers and my lawyer says that the divorce should be finalized in about 3 weeks. My wife never took my last name and never changed it legally or otherwise. A few days ago she changed her maiden name on facebook to my name. When I questioned her about this, she said that she has wanted to change her name for a long time and is just getting around to it now; she is “in the process” of it. The divorce papers stipulate that she can keep any name she had while we were married but cannot change it. So can she do this?

Asked on March 27, 2011 under Family Law, New York

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Sounds like she is giving you a final whammy.  Are you sure that she never legally  took your name?  In New York you are permitted - on your marriage license application - to have the option of using either name, whether or not you actually go through the process of changing any legal documentation, such as a driver's license, etc.  In fact, you can really use any name in the world that you like as long as you are not doing so with an intent to defraud. So double check on this with her.  She is getting it in under the deadline but she really may be legally fine.  I am sorry.  I am sure this is not what you wanted to hear. Good luck. 


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