Your divorce is final and you're ready to begin life anew. But first you must achieve one initial step before the journey begins: changing your last name. Changing your last name can be as simple as adding a sentence in your divorce decree or filing initial paperwork after the fact. But knowing what and where to file is the first step.
Make stipulations. In most instances there are no legal processes involved with changing your name. According to the American Bar Association, divorcees may automatically revert to their maiden name after their marriage is legally dissolved. However, you may stipulate the name change within your divorce decree. Or, petition the judge for a formal order to restore your original birth name.
Check your state guidelines. Each state maintains its own guidelines, so be sure to follow all necessary procedures respective to your state. California requires petitioners to file Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name (FL-395) if the name change is not originally stipulated in the divorce degree. In Georgia, you must stipulate your name change within your initial Complaint of Divorce filed in the Superior Court. It must also be included in your divorce decree and final judgment. You may be required to file additional paperwork if your request is absent from your divorce decree. Check with a court clerk or consult an attorney to determine what forms and fees are necessary.
Get certified copies. Once your divorce is final, obtain court-certified copies of your divorce decree and final judgment. You'll need this to verify your official name change. Check with the court clerk to determine corresponding fees.
Inform all appropriate agencies. Having documentation is one thing, but ensure all agencies are aware of your current name change is a separate issue. Use your certified documentation to change the name on your driver's license, social security card, passports, Internal Revenue Service files and all other government identification bearing your married name. Provide your bank, credit card, mortgage, insurance and other companies with copies of your certified documents.
Be timely. Don't wait until the last minute to file all necessary documentation. Some state agencies maintain strict name-change policies. You legally have 60 days to change your name with the Georgia Department of Driver Services to update your license. Begin completing all necessary procedures immediately after your divorce is finalized.