“It’s over.” Two words you never thought you would hear yourself – or your spouse – say. Once those words are spoken, however, it hits you like a ton of bricks. Your marriage is heading towards a final dissolution and for the first time in perhaps a very long time, you find yourself on your own. For many going through a separation or a divorce, it’s hard to remember who you were before you were a “Mr. or Mrs.” and it may seem like an overwhelming amount of paperwork and legalities you need to undertake in order to get the old you back. When it comes to resuming your former or maiden name, knowing what needs to be done and how to get it done makes the difference between a smooth transition into your new life and finding yourself stalled in the middle of the process.
If you chose to return to your former or maiden name, you should contact Social Security and obtain a new Social Security card in your new name. They will usually want a copy of your divorce judgment. You will also need to notify other agencies, such as the DMV and voter registration. Generally, you will need to bring a copy of your divorce decree, as well as any paperwork showing you are able to resume your maiden name. Removing your married name may cause a great deal of sadness at first, but remember – it can be a fresh start for you.
After you have successfully changed your name with Social Security and the DMV, most divorced individuals also change their names with their credit card companies, bank accounts, auto or home owners’ insurance policies, employment records, doctors’ offices, utility bills, cell phone, the children’s school and daycare, and many other entities. Depending on the entity, they may require proof of the name change so it is important to keep all your divorce papers for easy reference.
One of the most forgotten aspects after a divorce is remembering to remove your former spouse from your health insurance or life insurance policies, as this should be done immediately after the divorce is finalized unless your judgment provides otherwise. So often, many people continue with their daily lives, forgetting that their spouse is still listed as their beneficiary on their life insurance policies which could obviously lead to serious problems should anything ever happen to you. You also need to change all other “pay on death beneficiaries” you may have listed on retirements, pensions, 401k, bank accounts, and other investments as well as your will and/or trust. If you and your former spouse shared an automobile insurance policy, it is also very important to remove any vehicles associated with your former spouse off the policy in the event that they are involved in a serious accident.
Divorce is never easy, and going through the process of regaining your former life back can prove to be even more daunting. It’s completely normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed, but know that there is help out there to get you through the process. If you went through mediation, you have already worked out the important monetary issues relating to life insurance policies, auto policies, and any other policies where you were jointly listed. Your divorce mediator may also be able to walk through the steps associated with changing your name with you in an effort to make it as easy as possible. Divorce is a life changing experience and it is important to remember to sit back and take some time for yourself in order to grow and heal from the experience. Focusing on what needs to be done so that you can move ahead is taking the first step in the right direction.