Some women desire to change a name after divorce. Changing your name after a divorce is a very personal decision. If the parties have children, often the woman does not desire to change her name because of the children. Furthermore, the process of changing records such as driver’s license, social security card, credit cards, etc. can be very time consuming, and some individuals may not feel the need or importance to revert to their former name after a divorce.
In California, as in most states, you can request that the judge handling your divorce make a formal order to restore a former name or restore a birth name. If your divorce decree contains such an order, you will only need to obtain a certified copy of the Judgment. Once you have this official documentation, you can use it to have your name changed on your identification and personal records.
If you did not request your name change through a divorce proceeding, you can make a special request after the divorce is final by applying to the court where your divorce case was heard.
After a divorce is finalized, a mother cannot change her children’s last names to her maiden name without special court petition for change of name. This is because historically courts have ruled that a father had an automatic right to have his child or children keep his last name if he continued to perform his parental role actively.