A common question asked at Emerson Family Law is: “Should I change my name after divorce?”. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. If you decide to change your surname, we highlight the key steps and requirements of the name changing process to make your life a little easier during this difficult time.
Should You Change Your Name After Divorce?
As mentioned, the decision to change your name after divorce comes down to individual choice. There are many reasons why you might choose to revert to your maiden name. For instance, after a short marriage, it might feel more appropriate to reclaim your maiden name rather than keep your married name. Or, you may no longer wish to associate yourself with your ex-spouse. There are also many reasons why you might choose to keep your married surname. One of the key reasons for keeping your married surname is if there are children involved and you are worried about the name change impacting their life or causing confusion. Though, if you do have children and you choose to revert to your maiden name while your children maintain your married name, be aware that blended families with varying surnames are now very common.
Was Your Name Change After Marriage a Formal Change?
If you never formally changed your name after marriage, there is no need to change your name after divorce. This is the case for many couples. A formal name change requires you to register your new married name with the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages. So, if you did not complete this process, you can simply revert to using your maiden name. However, if you did legally register your name change, then you will need to file an application to the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages along with necessary documentation to change your surname to your maiden name.
What Do You Need to Change Your Name?
In order to change your name after divorce, you will need either the original or certified copies of these documents:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Divorce order (if applicable to your circumstances)
Where Might You Need to Change Your Name After Divorce?
You may find that you have to update your name with a number institutions after divorce. If you’re looking to update your name as soon as possible, here’s a common list for you to get started:
- Driver’s licence (or any other licences for boats, etc)
- Your bank
- Passports and any other relevant travel documents
- Property mortgages and leases
- Registered vehicles
- Your employer
- Centrelink and Medicare
- Your Superannuation provider
- Your insurance providers (house, health, travel etc.)
Bear in mind that there may be some costs associated with changing your name with these institutions.
What If You Want to Change Your Child’s Last Name?
Changing a child’s name after divorce is considered a long-term issue under the Family Law Act 1975. Before the child’s surname can be altered, there must be consent between both parties. A parent can apply to the court for an Order allowing the name change if they do not receive consent from the other parent. The court will then decide as to whether or not the name change is in the best interests of the child. If one parent has sole responsibility for major long term decisions, they are not required to consult the other parent in relation to a change of name after divorce.
Should both parents approve the name change, they must apply to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriage to officially change the child’s name on their birth certificate. Any children 12 years or older must agree to the name change unless the decision is approved by the court.
If you wish to change your child’s surname but you are unable to seek permission from your ex-spouse, our family lawyers can assist.
Legal Advice for Changing Your Name After Divorce
We understand that the task to change your name after divorce may seem overwhelming, but we are here to help. If you require any legal assistance changing your surname or your child’s surname, please get in touch with our team. Our family lawyers are highly skilled and experienced in divorce and separation law as well as children’s matters.