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Changing names post-divorce has obstacles

Wives in Texas have long-adopted their spouse's last name after marriage. More recently, both spouses have adopted hyphenated names and some husbands have even taken on their wives' names. Reverting to a pre-marriage last name after divorce, however, has many complications that should be considered.

Changing a last name after divorce eliminates any desired privacy. Colleagues, clients and other acquaintances will notice the change and can easily conclude that there was a divorce.

Keeping a married name avoids confusion for the children who no longer have the same last name as one of their parents. However, parents can explain this change to their children as they become older.

For spouses who are working, changing the name that they used professionally can diminish the reputation and notoriety they built on their name. However, for a spouse returning to work after a lengthy absence, using their name from their earlier working years may be an asset.

This process may be burdensome and time-consuming because it can include changing identification documents, passports, driver licenses, voter registration, bank documents, health records, schools, employers, insurance policies, pensions, utilities, credit cards, memberships, subscriptions and tax authorities.

Name changes can also complicate logging into the internet and passwords. It can cause difficulties with social networks which require recreation of a profile and re-inviting all connections. A name change might cause the forfeiture of the no-claim insurance bonus with some insurance carriers. Premiums are less if the spouse insured only half of the divided assets that are in their name.

Name changes on bonds, hire-purchases and leases can have an impact on credit ratings and interest rates. A divorced person is sometimes viewed as a higher actuarial risk. Changing names will not help avoid bankruptcy or paying debt and, if used for those purposes, can have serious legal consequences. It is not worth the effort if it is based upon anger or resentment toward an ex-spouse.

On the other hand, a name change may lead to independence and a way to start over. A person also faces little legal resistance to a name change if it does not contain numbers, symbols, profanity or trademarks.

An attorney can help spouses make decisions on these and other matters that affect post-divorce life. They can also protect a spouse's rights in these proceedings.

Source: Good Men Project, "12 reasons NOT to change your last name after divorce," Sinta Ebersohn, Oct. 20, 2017

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