What name do you have the right to use after your divorce?

It’s long been customary for married women in this country to take their spouse’s surname. While that may not always hold true today, it’s still a common practice.

So, what does that mean for a married woman that divorces? Can you simply revert to your maiden name or a name you used in the past once your divorce is over? What if you want to keep your married name but your ex-spouse is bitter and adamantly against the idea? Can your ex force you to revert to your prior name against your will?

You have options when it comes to your name after a divorce

First of all, your name is yours to keep — if you want it. Nobody, including your ex-spouse (or his future new spouse), can force you to give up your married name if you decide to use it. Many women will continue to use their married names after a divorce so that they share the same names as their minor children. That’s totally your prerogative.

If you do decide you want to drop your married name, you can include a Petition for Name Change in your divorce papers. Under Louisiana law, you can only revert to the last name you were using at the time of your current marriage, your maiden name or the last name that matches those of your minor children (for instances where you may have children from a prior marriage).

When you’re struggling with the details of your divorce

Names are very personal things, so don’t let anybody (including your ex) tell you what you can do about your name following your divorce.

Issues like these are among the many complex emotional and legal areas that must be addressed in a divorce. Working with an experienced advocate can make everything much easier.