A divorce is usually one of the most difficult events in a person's life. Keeping a married name after a divorce is often a painful reminder of the experience. For this reason, many women choose to return to their maiden (or just a previous) name after a divorce is over. (Side note, I have yet to see a judge order that a wife must return to a maiden name at the request of a husband.)
By far the easiest way to change your name is to do it within the divorce case itself. Kentucky statute provides that "[u]pon request by a wife whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid, the court may, and if there are no children of the parties shall, order her maiden name or a former name restored." Using this option, the name change is included in the final divorce decree and requires much less work.
The other option is to file a separate action in district court for a name change. Any person at least eighteen (18) years of age may have his or her name changed by the district court of the county in which he or she resides. In many counties, the district judge does not require a court appearance and will simply grant the request as a matter of course. The form to use to change your name can be found here.
Once you have received your divorce decree or district court order changing your name, the work is not yet done. Next, you will need to take your order or decree to the social security office to have your file with the United States government changed. You will also need to have a new drivers license issued which will require a trip to the district court clerk's office. You may also need to contact your bank, credit card companies, and any other office or institution that has records under your married name. This process may take some time, but it is worth it to save yourself a lot of headaches down the road.
Photo courtesy of Alan O'Rourke
Labels: district court, divorce, maiden name, name change