Reverting To Your Former Name
At Hello Mojo we’re often asked ‘SHOULD I go back to my former name?’. To help you better understand the ins and outs of this issue, and what to do if you’d like to change your name back after separation or divorce, we talked to Genevieve Dennis at Easy Name Change. Here is her advice.
Changing your name back to your former name is a deeply personal choice and there’s no right or wrong in making your decision. In a bad break up may feel right to ditch a name that never felt yours, but if you share the same name as your kids it may take years until you feel comfortable enough to go back to your former name, if at all.
The great news is that anyone living in Australia, the UK or Canada can go back to their former name at any time and no matter what your personal situation is – you don’t need to be divorced, or even separated! Bad news if you live in the USA. We explain the American name change process at the end of this article.
HOW TO RECLAIM YOUR FORMER NAME (Aus, Canada & UK)
The great news is that taking your spouse’s name doesn’t legally change your name. Your spouse’s surname is an assumed name. This means that you can go back to your former name at any time and for any reason! Your legal name is what is printed on your birth or citizenship certificate, unless you have legally changed names in the meanwhile.
There’s no central ‘register’ of names. Simply start using your former name and ask everyone to start calling you that name! The painful part comes in getting all your records updated. Generally there will be between 3 and 5 places you need to visit in person to get your records updated. These typically include your health registration (eg: Medicare, SIN, provincial health card), any banks with large branch networks and your driver’s licence.
Most other organisations need you to either send a written or else sign into your account online and request your change of name through a secure message or via your profile. This is the time consuming part as you’ll need to contact every place where you hold an account, membership or ID to learn the process. Personalised name change kits, like the one from Easy Name Change Australia, Canada or UK, can do this leg work for you and provide ready to send forms, letters and emails for your chosen companies.
WHAT PROOF DO I NEED?
Most organisations will need to see proof of your married and former name. If you’re separated show your government issued birth and marriage certificates. If born abroad show your citizenship certificate in your former name. If you became a citizen in your married name then you need a legal name change.
If you’re divorced most organisations will ask for your decree absolute, even though you can follow the same process as anyone separate.
Ultimately, each organisation sets their own proof requirements. Some may ask for updated photo ID, so it’s a good idea to change ether your passport or driver’s licence first. If you’re divorced some organisations may ask for all certificates: birth, marriage and divorce. If you’re ever in doubt on what proof to provide it’s best to provide more as you’ll be less likely to have your request rejected. If you have to attend any places in person always take original documents.
Unlike other countries, you can’t simply resume your former name as organizations require a court order. The easiest way is to file for a change of name at the same time as your divorce proceedings. If you don’t get your name changed as part of your divorce you can apply for a legal name change at any other time, but you must file a petition. It can be quite slow and expensive!
Once you have your court order, attend any SSA branch in person. You can instead apply by mail, however you’ll need to mail in your original court order and it wont be returned for several weeks.
Allow the SSA 3 working days to process your request, then you can attend your state DMV office to change your driver’s licence. Check your state DMV first; some can look up SSA records and confirm your name has changed, where some states need you to bring proof of your name already being changed with the SSA, in which case bring your updated card or mailed correspondence in your new name.
From here you’ll need to contact each organisation where you hold an account, membership or ID. They will let you know what process to follow and what proof they require. Your name is typically changed by each organization within a few working days of receiving your request.
Hello Mojo recommends the services of Easy Name Change.
Click here if you are based in the USA
Click here if you are based in the Canada
Click here if you are based in the Australia
Click here if you are based in the United Kingdom