A divorce has ended your marriage, and you may want to change your legal married name. Mississippi has a civil court procedure for changing your legal name, but it's not required; your divorce decree can serve as the legal authorization for reverting to your maiden name. The primary task that follows is filing the proper paperwork and documents with the Social Security Administration. For all intents and purposes, your Social Security card serves as current, valid identification -- accepted by businesses and public agencies that need to know who you are.
Decree of Divorce
Mississippi has a court procedure in place for a legal change of name, but state law does not require that you file for a name change in the case of marriage or divorce. The legal authority for a name change pursuant to divorce is the decree issued by the court handling the divorce case. You need to request that the court include a change of name in the decree, which legally authorizes a reversion to your maiden name. This is a routine step in a Mississippi divorce case. You'll need a copy of the decree to carry out name changes with Social Security; the decree may also be required by other federal and state agencies, and companies with whom you do business.
County Court Filing
If your divorce decree does not include a name change, you may file a petition with a Mississippi county court that has jurisdiction. A Mississippi petition for name change is available from online legal form vendors; the state does not provide forms. Complete the petition with your birth date and name, address, full current legal name, proposed full legal changed name and the reason for the change. You must also certify that you have no outstanding judgments, have never been convicted of a crime, and that you are not involved in any pending legal actions. Sign the form, attach a certified copy of your birth certificate, and file it with the county court clerk. The clerk charges a filing fee and schedule your petition for a brief hearing, at which a judge hears any objections and then sign the order for your name change.
Social Security Procedure
Make a copy of your divorce decree or court order for the Social Security Administration. The agency requires Form SS-5, available for download from the SSA website. Social Security requires documentation of both your former married name and your legal maiden name. In addition, you must provide a document showing your date and place of birth and a physical description. The agency requires documents issued within the last two years. If the decree or court order is older, you must provide additional documents proving your identity in your former name.
Social Security calls this process a "change to number record," in other words the information associated with a particular Social Security number. After processing the SS-5, the agency issues a new Social Security card with the same Social Security number and your new name. The card will be required by other public agencies, such as the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, when you file for a driver's license and other new identification documents.
Taxes, Passports and Voting
The Social Security card as well as a newly issued driver's license is also useful when notifying businesses, creditors, employers, clients and government agencies. There's no need to notify the Internal Revenue Service -- they go by names associated with Social Security records. If you hold a passport in your married name, you must file a new passport application; the Department of State waives fees if your passport was issued less than a year before your application. In Mississippi, you must also file a new voter registration application with the local circuit court at least 30 days before an election in which you plan to vote.
- Social Security Administration: Form SS-5
- IRS.gov: Report Name Change Before You File Taxes
- Department of State: Change or Correct a Passport
- Mississippi Secretary of State: Mississippi Voter Registration Application
- Mississippi Department of Public Safety: Frequently Asked Questions
- Harrison County Law Library: Forms
- Justia: 2013 Mississippi Code § 93-17-1 - Jurisdiction to Alter Names
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