But sometimes reverting to the maiden name can be inconvenient and many women decide to keep their married name instead.
If you’re considering a name change after divorce, here’s everything you need to know.
Every divorce is different and there is no right or wrong answer to whether you should keep your married name or revert to your maiden name. The main advantage of changing your name after divorce is establishing a complete break from your former spouse. Once you revert to your birth name, you are no longer connected to your ex-husband legally, financially, or emotionally.
At the same time, there are many reasons why you may want to keep your married name after divorce:
Some women choose not to revert to their maiden name, but take a different last name to mark their new identity.
The legal aspect of changing your last name after divorce is easy—you can simply go back to using your previous name. However, the administrative part where you must officially record the change with different companies and government bodies is more complicated and time consuming.
However, there are some steps you can take to make changing your last name after divorce easier. Start by making a list of everyone you should contact with the update of your name change. To make the transition smoother, start using your new name as soon as possible and introduce yourself that way to others as well.
Your name change request after divorce in the United Kingdom must be accompanied by a legally recognized document. This can be either a decree absolute (divorce certificate) or a deed poll, an official document that legalizes your name change.
If your divorce certificate indicates both your married name and your maiden name and clearly shows the link between the two, it is usually sufficient evidence of a name change. Otherwise, if you wish to change your name after divorce, you need to present the following documents:
You need to take with you a copy of these documents to the relevant institutions and inform them that you are reverting to your maiden name. Many companies require original documents, so having multiple copies will enable you to submit several name change requests simultaneously.
Once you’ve obtained a decree absolute and have all the documents mentioned above, you won’t need a deed poll to revert to your maiden name in your official records.
Furthermore, you don’t need a deed poll if you wish to revert to Miss or Ms titles without changing your name, since your title is not used as evidence of your identity.
There is no legal requirement to update your documents and records to reflect your name change in the UK. However, there are a few exceptions. The following documents must be kept up-to-date with your current name:
The organizations and individuals you should inform about your name change typically include:
Marriage in the UK is dissolved when the court issues a decree absolute. This document signifies that the marriage has officially ended and that both parties are now allowed to remarry. A decree absolute entitles a woman to revert to her maiden name and is accepted as a legal document by all government bodies and companies across the country.
If you have lost your decree absolute, you can easily order a new copy from HM Courts & Tribunal Services by email or mail. You can find the contact information of all the courts and tribunals in England and Wales on the UK government website. The application fee is £10.
You will be asked to provide your case number and the name of the court that originally issued your decree absolute. There are additional costs if you don’t know your case number or the name of the court—you’ll have to pay £45 to search for the case number and £65 to search for the court.
A copy of a decree absolute that was issued in Northern Ireland will cost £10 if you know the case number, otherwise, you will have to pay an additional £20 to do a search.
For a decree absolute issued in Scotland, you will have to pay £21 for a copy of the divorce decree, including the search fee.
If you have lost your birth certificate or marriage certificate, you can get a replacement from the General Register Office (GRO). You can register and order a copy of your certificate either online or by writing to:
General Register Office
PO Box 2
The service costs £9.25 per certificate. Note that all births and marriages registered in England or Wales have a GRO index reference number. If you don’t have this number, you will have to pay an additional £3 for the search. You can obtain your certificate the next day if you choose the priority service which costs £35.
Northern Ireland and Scotland
You don’t have to wait until your divorce is finalized to change your last name. To revert to using your maiden name and update your records before you receive the decree absolute, you can apply for a deed poll with the UK Deed Poll Office and follow our simple procedure.
There are several other cases where you will need to have a deed poll to officially change your name after divorce: