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Surname Changes after Divorce

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

In Parkland, a woman who adopted her spouse's surname during marriage has the right to change it after divorce. The easiest way to have a surname restored is in connection with the dissolution of marriage action. The change of surname should be pleaded for by the client’s family law attorney in a Petition (or Counter-Petition) for Dissolution of Marriage. Assuming that no credible objection exists, the restoration of the client’s prior surname would be incorporated into the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. Copies of the Final Judgment with the name change clearly specified therein can then be provided to all entities requiring notification of the name change. These entities include the Social Security Administration, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and any banks where accounts are held.

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If a client chooses to forego restoration of a prior surname during the divorce, the option still exists to change one's name at a later time, but the process is more complicated and costly after a divorce. The client is not limited to restoration of a prior surname but may request another name entirely if desired. The process for changing one’s name is outlined in 68.07, Florida Statutes. A Petition for Change of Name would be filed in Broward County. A filing fee must be paid to the Clerk of Court in connection with the Petition. If the client is only seeking to restore a former surname, fingerprints do not need to be submitted. If the client is not seeking to restore a former surname but is requesting a new name, the client must have fingerprints submitted for a state and national criminal records check. The fingerprints must be taken in accordance with policies set by the Department of Law Enforcement and submitted to that Department for a state and national criminal records check. This process takes several weeks and also involves additional costs.

Although it is simpler and less costly for a change of surname to occur upon entry of the Final Judgment, when and if a name change should occur is a deeply personal decision. The matter should be discussed with your counsel in Parkland. A divorce lawyer can help you make a more informed decision in y our family law case.

Name changes for children

When it comes to minor children, a divorced parent generally does not have the right to unilaterally change the children’s names without the other parent’s notification. The other parent must be notified and his or her consent obtained, if possible. This is often a delicate matter which requires a tactful approach. If amenable, the other parent should execute a consent document to be filed with the Petition for Change of Name for Minor Children. Unless both parents are jointly petitioning the court for the children’s name change, the parent seeking the name change should notify the other parent of the Petition for Change of Name via service of process. Once proper service is obtained, the parent seeking the name change may request a hearing on the children’s name change even if the other parent does not consent. Whether the court chooses to grant such a request will be based on whether the court determines that a name change is in the children’s best interest.

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