How can I return to using my maiden name after my divorce? Do I have to wait a certain period of time?

In North Carolina, you are allowed to call yourself anything you want, as long as you don’t do it for fraudulent or deceptive purposes. On an informal basis, you can even tell friends that you are resuming the use of your maiden name before your North Carolina divorce is final.

Many clients who are in the process of a divorce want a more formalized name change. You can speed up matters greatly by making the request for a name change part of your divorce petition. The judge will make your name change part of the final divorce judgment.

If you are already divorced and want to go back to the name you used before marriage, that’s certainly possible. The North Carolina Courts have made the form for requesting a reversion to your maiden name available online. You will fill out the form and present it at the clerk’s office in the civil division of your county courthouse. You will also need to show a valid photo ID and a photocopy of the divorce judgment. There will be a small fee for this process.

Synchronizing your other forms of identification

Once you have the court order allowing you to resume the use of your premarital name, it’s time to tidy up a few other identification issues. If your workplace requires identification tags, cards, or documents, the authorization from the North Carolina courts is probably going to be enough to get new ID issued. But what about your Social Security card, your driver’s license, and your passport?

Social Security card. Based on our experience as divorce attorneys in Wilmington, we recommend you start here. You can download the form for obtaining a replacement card from the Social Security Administration. We recommend that you take this completed form to the nearest U.S. Social Security office for processing. You will need to bring along the original state court documents that authorized your name change.

Driver's license. Once you have your new Social Security card, you can apply for a duplicate North Carolina driver license with your “new” premarriage name. You are, in fact, legally obligated to tell the Division of Motor Vehicles of your name change within 60 days of the change. However, because the DMV compares its name registry with records from the U.S. Social Security Administration, you will need to change your Social Security identification first.

When you go to your local DMV office to apply for a duplicate license, you will need to take your divorce decree showing the name change or your separate court decree authorizing the reversion to your maiden name.

U.S. passport. The precise form to use depends on how long ago your passport was issued. If your current passport was issued within the last year, you will file a request to amend the name; there is no fee involved. If your passport is over a year old, you will refile for a new passport, and the regular fee schedule will apply. In most cases, the matter can be handled by mail, according to the U.S. State Department.

Further information is available

If you have other questions about resuming the use of your maiden name after a North Carolina divorce, we encourage you to contact Speaks Law Firm. Our experienced New Hanover County family law attorneys want to make the transition back to single life as easy as possible. Connect with us today about any divorce issue by calling 910-341-7570 locally or 877-593-4233 from anywhere in the state.

R. Clarke Speaks
Connect with me
Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.