You divorced your ex to start anew, but having his last name is holding you back. However, you don’t have to keep your ex’s name forever. In Florida, you can legally change your name whenever you want to, and the process is easier if the name you want is your former name. The steps you’ll have to take will depend on your situation.
Order in your divorce decree
If you are still in the divorce proceedings, you can list your full maiden’s name on your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. That way, the court will issue your name change as a separate document during the proceedings. However, if you did not ask for it, you can check if there is a provision for your name change in your divorce decree. If there is, you can use this as legal proof to change your name. If there isn’t, you can contact the court that handled your divorce case and ask them to amend the document. Sometimes this is not possible to do, in which case you would need to file a petition with the court.
Filing a petition
You can file a petition to change your name with the circuit court clerk in the county where you live. This is a separate proceeding, and you’ll need to pay a fee for it. You’ll need to prove your identity to file the petition, which is why you’ll need to bring your passport, driver’s license, the divorce decree or relevant hospital records. As you want to restore your former name, you won’t have to undergo a criminal background check like everyone else. The court may hold the hearing for your name change immediately after you file the petition.
Updating your name
Once the court officially changes your last name, you’ll need to contact all agencies and institutions that have records of you. The first thing you must do is to update your name with the Social Security Administration in person or by mail as soon as possible. Then, you’ll need to update your Driver’s License or your Florida ID within 10 days after changing your name. After that, make sure you let other institutions know about your name change. Contact your bank, employer, insurance company, and the U.S. State Department if you want to update your passport.
A fresh start
After updating your name, you won’t have to use your ex’s last name anymore. The process may be daunting, but it is worth it if you want to start anew. By changing your name, you can recover your identity and leave your relationship in the past.