A rose by any other name: changing your name after divorce

The divorce is underway!  You have decided upon your reasons for getting divorced, got the info on how to get a divorce and looked into your divorce finances and single parent benefits, organised the kid's new life after divorce and earmarked your share of the worldly goods.


With so much still to do and so many adjustments to make isn't it better to opt for the quiet life and stick with your name?

Maybe not.  For many women reverting to their maiden name is as important as setting up an independent household.  It's a mentally liberating manoeuvre that draws a line in the sand and sets the tone for your new life after divorce.

By holding onto your married name (and title) you invite a daily reminder of your ex and your former life.  Make the change and you might even wonder what madness possessed you to take his name in the first place!  One more little turn of the screw, do you really want to share a name with his mother?

No wait to change your name
There are two howling great misconceptions concerning a change of name.  The first is the idea that it comes at the end of the process, after divorce.  In fact a separated woman has the right to change her surname at any time.  If you are separated, and do not wish to be known by your husband's surname, you can change it by Deed Poll.  (You can change your name entirely and this is your opportunity, not just to admire but to be Paris Hilton!) 

The second misconception is that a name change follows a tortuous bureaucratic path whereby, bogged down by paperwork and passwords, you regret your ambitions to revert to Ms Hyde.  It's a pessimistic rumour nurtured by negative ninnies as in reality you can ditch ‘Jekyll' in a few simple steps.

woman with a rose in her handDeed poll or decree absolute & marriage certificate
There are two ways to change your name.  The first is by Deed Poll and the second is with your decree absolute and marriage certificate.

For the former you simply apply for a document called a Deed Poll. You can apply online, by telephone, by post or in person.  ( www.deedpoll.org.uk )  The Deep Poll, which bears an official seal,  is prepared in line with your requirements and posted to you.  You sign and date your Deep Poll document in the presence of a witness.

This document is now ready to send to government bodies, companies and organisations to request that they change their records and use this name. You can also apply for a new British passport, driving licence and cheque books to be reissued in your new name. 

In many cases a woman can revert to her maiden name by using her decree absolute and marriage certificate as documentary evidence of her change of name.  Most government departments and many companies and organisations (though not all financial institutions) will change their records to show a woman's maiden name. 


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