If you changed your name when you married, you might want to change it back after you divorce. Although many women include this in the divorce order, others are not quite ready to alter their surnames for weeks, months or even years. If you live in California, it's easy to get your maiden name back even years or decades after your divorce is final by filing an Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
To take back your maiden name in California years after a divorce is final, use form FL-395. This is an Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name, and it's an easy way to make the name change.
California Divorce Name Change
Many modern women don't even change their names when they marry these days, and many others take back their maiden name when they divorce. Using your spouse's last name is a sign of family unity that may not make sense once the marriage is over.
The easiest time to switch back to your maiden name is as part of your divorce action. A court will automatically agree to, and order, a California divorce name change in a divorce decree, if requested. From that moment on, you are free to use your maiden name as your legal name. The trick is to notify all appropriate businesses and agencies, starting with the bank, the Social Security Administration and the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new license.
Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name
If you weren't ready to change your name at the time of your divorce, that doesn't mean you can't do it later. In fact, any adult can change her name for any reason in California other than to defraud debtors. But the procedure requires publication of the name change for consecutive weeks in a local paper, payment of court filing costs and a court appearance.
It's much easier to file an Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name. It will work like a charm as long as the court that granted your divorce was a California court. Gather information from your divorce forms, including the case number, the names of the parties and the date of the order. Then, all you have to do is contact the court clerk where the divorce was granted. You may be able to do this by mail if you are not in the area. Call ahead and ask.
Provide the clerk with the information about your divorce case, as well as a copy of the Notice of Entry of Judgment, if you can find it. Then complete Form FL-395, Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (Family Law). If you are mailing the information, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. You will have to wait about two to four weeks to get the paperwork returned. Then start the process of notifying banks and agencies of your new, old name.
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