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Divorce and Returning to Maiden Name

Before September 11, 2001, you could use different names on different official documents such as birth certificates, driver’s license, Passport, etc. After the terrorist attacks, government changed the rules and now all your official documents must have matching names. Obtaining a court ordered official name change can take some time and cost in excess of $500.00.

When women go through a divorce, it is not always fully or properly explained that a woman can use her divorce decree to return to her maiden name and avoid the cost of a court ordered formal name change.

Here is how it works. If, when the Petition and the Decree are prepared, signed and filed the following language is added to the Petition and Decree:

Wife requests restoration of her former or maiden name to STEPHANIE DAWN CRUZ.


A woman can, if she wishes to, take the Decree to the DMV or other government agency and request new documents with her maiden name on them. It is important to note that she isn’t required to change her name and can keep her married name if she wishes, but she ‘can’ use the Decree to change her name at anytime, if she wishes, and avoid the costs of a formal name change.

The flip side of course is if the above language is not added to the Petition and Decree and then the woman decides she wants to return to her maiden name, she has to do a formal name change at a cost often over $ 500.00.

One misunderstanding seems to revolve around many women thinking that adding this language means she ‘must’ change her name, but that is incorrect. Once the language is in there, it is her decision as to whether she wants to retain her married name or return to her maiden name.

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