Many women change their names when they marry. Once it is clear that a divorce is inevitable, it is not unusual for a woman to wish to return to her maiden name. (Most divorce issues apply equally to men and women. This is an exception as it is much less common for men to change their names when marrying, though there are men who have changed their names to a hyphenated name. The answers provided below apply equally to men and women.)14.1 Can I Change My Name When I Get Divorced?
Yes, you can change your name as part of the divorce, or by a separate petition filed with the circuit court where you reside.14.2 Can I Change My Name Before the Divorce Is Filed?
Yes, you can seek a name change at any time, independently of a divorce action.14.3 Is There Any Time Limit Regarding When I Change My Name? Can I Change My Name After the Divorce Is Over?
There is no time limit regarding when you are able to change your name. You can seek a name change before your divorce, during your divorce, or at any time after your divorce.14.4 What’s the Procedure for Changing My Name?
You file a petition to change your name in the circuit court in the city or county where you reside. The form Application for Change of Name (Adult) is available on Virginia’s Judicial System website. You have to complete the form and sign it under oath before a notary public. You then submit the signed application, the required filing fee, and a name-change order to the circuit court. The court will review your application and more than likely enter an order changing your name without a hearing. Your attorney can assist you with this paperwork.14.5 Can My Spouse Oppose My Name Change?
No, if you file a separate petition for your name change, your spouse (or ex-spouse) is not even notified.14.6 If I Change My Name, Do I Have to Return to My Maiden Name?
No, you can return to your maiden name, return to a prior married name, or change to a new name. The restrictions are that your name change cannot be for a fraudulent purpose and cannot infringe upon the rights of others.14.7 I Have Custody of My Child. Can I Change His Name to Match My New Married Name?
It depends. If the child’s father agrees and joins in the application, then a judge will likely approve the name change without a hearing. If the father does not join in the application, then the court will provide notice to the father and allow him an opportunity to object. If the father objects, then the judge will have a hearing to determine whether the name change is in the best interest of the child. A judge will usually not allow a name change over the objection of the father if the father is a fairly normal father. The judge will generally only order a name change over the objection of the father if:
- The father has abandoned the child.
- The father has engaged in sufficient misconduct to embarrass the child in continued use of the father’s name.
- The child otherwise will be harmed by continuing to bear the father’s name.
- The child desires that his name be changed and is of sufficient age and discretion to make such a choice.
You apply to change your child’s name in the circuit court in the city or county where the child resides. The form Application for Change of Name (Minor) is available on Virginia’s Judicial System website. You will complete the application and sign it under oath before a notary public. If the child’s father is joining in the application, you will have him sign the application under oath before a notary public. You will then submit the signed application, required filing fee, and a proposed name-change order to the circuit court. A hearing will be necessary if the other parent does not agree. Your attorney can assist with this paperwork and with the hearing, if necessary.