How To Change Your Legal Name After Divorce

Posted by Carlie Headapohl, CDFA®

January 28, 2019

If you are even thinking about changing your name after your divorce, the best thing to do is have it written into your divorce agreement that is filed with the court. This will save you a big step, time and money and it doesn’t obligate you to change or name, it just preserves the option. Make sure to ask for certified copies of your divorce judgment when you submit your divorce agreement to the court or ask your attorney or mediator to get at least 4 certified copies, 2 for you and 2 for your spouse. Also, make sure to bring cash and checks with your for fees. Most government agencies such as social security and the DMV do not accept credit cards for payment of fees.

This process requires time and organization. I will list the steps below and the numbered steps must be done in the order as listed. It is a good idea to put together a checklist of every account, bill, etc. so you can check off each one as you take care of submitting the paperwork to change your name. Be sure to follow up and make sure everything is properly changed, no misspellings.

“If you are even thinking about changing your name after your divorce, the best thing to do is have it written into your divorce agreement that is filed with the court.”

Documents you will need to have handy:

Certified copy of your divorce judgment, current driver’s license, passport, and original birth certificate.

The Steps Involved

 Step 1: Change your name with Social Security. This will require an application and an appointment at the social security office. The form is called Application for a Social Security Card (SS-5). You will need your birth certificate, passport and driver’s license and divorce agreement with you.

Step 2: Once you have your new social security card or the paperwork showing it has been ordered, you will need to take that with you and your  divorce agreement to the DMV to get a new driver’s license in the new name that matches your social security name. You need to wait at least 72 hours before going to the DMV after going to the Social Security office.

Step 3: Once you have your driver’s license you will then need to obtain a new passport which will require forms to change your name and for a new passport.

Step 4: Once you have your new passport you can apply to change your name for Global Entry and TSA pre-check.

Next Steps once you have your identification in your new name:  

  • Change your name at your banks and order new checks that match your new IDs.
  • Change your name at your banks and order new checks that match your new IDs. 
  • Order new business cards.
  • Change your name with all your credit card companies.
  • Change your name with all other accounts, brokerage, IRA, 401k, pension type accounts.
  • Provide your employer with your new legal name.
  • Change your name with all of your utilities, cell phone, etc.
  • Change your name with your insurance companies.
  • Submit name change notice to IRS and state tax authorities.
  • Change name on voter registration.
  • Keep an eye out for any mail, bills, correspondence that is coming in your old name and submit name change.
  • Notify your post office of your name change.
  • Update your name in your social media profiles.
  • You may want to create a new email address if your current ones have your old name.

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