Did you just get divorced and want to change your last name back to your maiden name?
As you know from your previous name change, it’s a serious undertaking.
We put together this guide to help guide you through your name change after divorce.
Note, if you’d like to learn more about marriage name changes you can do so by visiting our name change after marriage guide.
How To Change Your Name After Divorce: An 11 Step Guide
- Get your divorce decree
- Find legal proof of your former name
- Update your name with the Social Security Administration
- Get a new driver’s license or state ID card
- Update your passport
- Update your Trusted Traveler Programs
- Update your voter registration information
- Update your name with the United States Postal Service
- Update your name with your employer
- Update your important financial accounts
- Finish up with your remaining accounts
Insider Tip: NewlyNamed makes your name change after divorce easy
Are you dreading changing your name again and want to make it as painless as possible?
Our custom name change kits contain everything you need to change your name after divorce.
Each name change kit is personalized based on your information and contains step-by-step instructions and forms for your federal documents (Social Security, Passport, etc.), state documents (driver’s license, vehicle title/registration, etc.), and all your personal accounts (banks, credit cards, frequent flyer programs, hotel loyalty, investment accounts, nursing license, etc.).
The average person needs to change their name in over 20 places! Save time and frustration with NewlyNamed!
Step 1 – Get your divorce decree
Your divorce decree serves as your legal name change document. It will allow you to go back to your former/maiden name and you’ll use it throughout the entire name change after divorce process.
Every divorce is different, but in general, a divorce decree is issued by the court as a final summary of your divorce.
A divorce decree is limited in scope and varies by state, but they typically allow you to change your name back to your maiden or previous last name.
If you lost your divorce decree, you can get a certified copy by contacting your state’s vital records office. The National Center for Health Statistics put together a helpful state-by-state guide to help you obtain a certified copy of your divorce decree.
If you’re divorced and your divorce decree doesn’t allow you to change your name, then the only other way to get your maiden name back would be to petition for a court-ordered name change.
Step 2 – Find legal proof of your former name
Since you will be changing your name, you will need to make the connection from your current last name to the last name you’d like to get back. This step may not be necessary if your divorce decree clearly states that you’ll be changing your last name back to your previous or maiden name, but having your birth certificate or an old passport should guarantee you have enough evidence of your former name.
Step 3 – Update your name with the Social Security Administration (SSA)
Now that you have proof of your divorce, it’s time to let the government know that you’re changing your legal name. You’ll need to update your name with the SSA by filling out Form SS-5 and submitting it by mail or in person at your nearest SSA office.
You’ll need to provide the following documents:
- Proof of Name Change: An original or certified copy of your divorce decree or court order.
- Proof of Identity: Must be a valid photo ID issued by a government agency such as a passport, driver’s license, state-issued ID card, or U.S. Military ID.
- Proof of Citizenship: A valid passport or a certified copy of your birth certificate.
- Social Security card: Your original Social Security card. Your Social Security number won’t change.
If you’re not a U.S. citizen, visit this link will help you determine which documents you’ll need to present in order to update your name with the SSA.
You’ll receive a Social Security card in the mail in about two weeks with your new name.
As a bonus, the IRA is automatically notified when your name is updated with the SSA.
While it’s tempting to avoid the hassle of visiting a government office and simply mail your application in, we recommend visiting the SSA office in person. This way there’s zero chance of you losing your driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, divorce decree or other very important personal documents in the mail. If your mail gets lost there’s nothing you can do. So we think it’s best to plan it safe.
Learn more about changing your name with the SSA by visiting our Social Security Name Change Guide.
Step 4 – Get a new driver’s license or state ID card
Important: If you visited the SSA office in person, wait at least 48 hours before visiting the DMV to get a new driver’s license. If you submitted Form SS-5 via mail, wait until you receive your new Social Security card in the mail before visiting the DMV.
Before you head to the DMV, check out your state DMV’s website to see if you can set up an appointment. It’s your best chance to avoid a long line!
We recommend applying for a REAL ID. Starting October 1, 2021, you will need a REAL ID or another form of TSA-approved identification to board a domestic commercial flight. In most states, REAL IDs cost the same as standard IDs so the REAL IDs travel benefits make it an easy decision to get.
You’ll need to bring the following documents to your DMV office:
- Proof of Name Change: An original or certified copy of your divorce decree or court order.
- Proof of Identity: Your current driver’s license or ID card.
- Proof of Citizenship: A valid passport or your birth certificate. If you’re not a U.S. Citizen you can bring your valid foreign passport with a valid U.S. Visa and approved I-94 form, or a Certificate of Naturalization.
- Proof of Social Security Number: Your new Social Security card. If you waited 48 hours after changing your name with the SSA, you can bring our your old Social Security card and a copy of the receipt the SSA gave you verifying your name change.
- Proof of State Residency: Two (2) documents required such as a utility bill, mortgage/lease statement, bank statement or credit card statement. Must contain your full name and address.
Learn more about the pros and cons of REAL IDs by visiting our REAL ID Guide.
Step 5 – Update your passport
Now you’re going to want to update your passport to match your new name.
Important: Review your travel calendar! If you have any existing travel reservations (flights, hotels, car rentals, vacations, etc.) booked in your old name, wait until you return from your travel to update your passport. If the name on your reservation doesn’t match your photo ID you may not be able to board your plane or check into your hotel.
Updating your passport is technically a correction so you’ll be able to submit everything by mail.
If you have a valid passport that was issued >12 months ago, you’ll use Form DS-82.
If your valid passport was issued < 12 months ago you’ll use Form DS-5504.
If your passport has been expired for >5 years or you’d like to apply for your first passport, you’ll need to complete Form DS-11.
This form wizard will help you determine the correct passport form to submit.
You will need to mail in the application along with the required documentation, a color photograph of yourself, and the applicable fees.
Your updated passport will arrive in 6-8 weeks so plan accordingly. If you’d like your passport update to be processed faster, you can pay a $60 expedition fee and you’ll receive your passport in 2-3 weeks.
You will also receive your old passport back with a hole punched through the center along with the documentation you submitted.
Learn more about updating the name on your passport by visiting our Passport Name Change Guide.
Step 6 – Update your Trusted Traveler Programs
Now that your passport is updated, you’re going to want to make sure your Global Entry and TSA PreCheck memberships match your passport.
If you have both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, remember to update Global Entry first! Global Entry and TSA PreCheck share the same name database so your name change will automatically pass through to TSA PreCheck.
To update your Global Entry card, start by calling your nearest Global Entry Enrollment Center. Ask if you can update your name over the phone. If not, you will need to visit an Enrollment Center in person.
No appointment is needed so you can just show up during normal business hours.
You’ll need to bring your Global Entry card, passport (in your new name), and your divorce decree or court order. You will not be issued a new Global Entry card.
Most Enrollment Centers are in airports, so we suggest arriving a few hours early to your next flight so you can make the update without having to make two trips.
You can request a name change by calling the TSA Help Center at 855-347-8371.
You will need to email or fax your legal name change document (divorce decree or court order), passport, Known Traveler Number, and a unique code the TSA agent gives you over the phone.
Note: TSA has been inconsistent with name changes so be patient. They may deny your request to update your name via email/fax and ask you to visit an enrollment center.
Expect TSA to process your name change in 30-90 days as they always very backed up with name change requests.
Step 7 – Update your voter registration information
Voting is important and your new name will have to be properly registered with your state to vote. You can update your name online (in most states) by visiting vote.gov or by downloading a National Voter Registration Application and mailing it in.
Step 8 – Update your name with the United States Postal Service (USPS)
Most divorces result in an address change which is why it’s important to keep your name updated with USPS. You can update your address for free by visiting moversguide.usps.com.
Step 9 – Update your name with your employer
Now that you have an updated photo ID (driver’s license or passport), contact your HR department and inform them of your legal name change. This will make sure all your payroll information and employer-sponsored benefits (401k, health/dental/vision/disability/life insurance, etc.) are in your new name.
Step 10 – Update your important financial accounts
The next step is to update your important financial accounts.
- Banks – Most banks require you to visit a branch location with your updated photo ID and your divorce decree or court order.
- Credit Cards – Try changing your name online. If you can’t call the number on the back of your card.
- Mortgage – You’ll likely need to call customer service.
- Investments – Any non-employee-sponsored accounts you have such as a Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, 529 or brokerage account. Most require you to call customer service and mail in supporting documentation.
- Insurance – Any non-employee-sponsored insurance policies that you have such as Auto, Homeowner’s, Life, Disability, Business, etc. Most can be done over the phone after verifying your identity or via mail.
Step 11 – Finish up with your remaining accounts
Start by looking through your checking account and credit card statements for things you auto-pay each month. Expenses such as:
- Utilities (electric, gas, water, garbage, etc.
- Monthly subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, HBO, etc.)
- Cell phone
- Loyalty programs (airlines, hotels, retail stores, etc.)
- Email accounts
Best of luck with your name change after divorce!
Founder & CEO, NewlyNamed
Frequently Asked Questions
Does my divorce decree expire?
No, divorce decrees do not expire because it’s a court order.
I lost my divorce decree. How do I get a certified copy?
You’ll need to contact your state’s vital records office.
My divorce decree doesn’t specify my maiden or birth name. What should I do?
Call your local Social Security office to see if they’ll accept your divorce decree as a legal name change document. If not, you’ll need to petition for a court-ordered name change. You can start a court-ordered name change by contacting your county clerk’s office.
Can I keep my married last name after I’m divorced?
Yes, it’s technically your legal last name so it’s totally up to you whether you keep it or drop it for your maiden or birth name.
What are the main reasons why people don’t change their last name after divorce?
- Kids – You won’t share the same name as your children if you decide to change your last name. Keeping your current last name may be good for your kids and family.
- Professional reasons – You’ve built a career around your current last name and it could set you back professional if you changed it. Many doctors, attorneys, and business owners cite this as a reason for choosing not to do a name change after divorce.
- Personal preference – You simply like your married last name better than your maiden or birth last name.