Going through a divorce (or “dissolution of marriage” as it is legally called in Florida), is a significant life event that often prompts individuals to consider making various changes, including their name. In the U.S., about 68.5% of women adopt their husband’s family name when they get married, according to one recent large study. Others choose to keep their own family name or take on a hyphenated version combining their last name with that of their partner. While not as common, even some men may elect to change their last name when getting married.
In the state of Florida, individuals have the freedom to decide whether to change their last names after a divorce. By default, it is expected that they will retain their married name unless they actively pursue a legal process to request a name change.
Deciding whether to change your name after a divorce is a personal choice that carries both benefits and drawbacks. As a leading family law firm in Jacksonville serving clients throughout Northeast Florida for over 25 years, our attorneys at Parra Harris Law have consulted with hundreds of individuals facing the decision of whether to change their name following a dissolution of marriage. In this article, we want to provide you with valuable insights into the legal and practical aspects of changing your name after a divorce. Here are the pros and cons that you need to consider.
Pros of Changing Your Name After a Divorce:
Emotional Fresh Start:
Changing your name after a divorce can represent a symbolic fresh start and an opportunity to leave behind the reminders of your previous marriage. This fact that there is a dissolution of marriage occurring implies that there are likely some experiences that you wish to put behind you, to begin anew. Changing your name can help boost self-confidence and be a meaningful step towards embracing a new chapter in life and fostering personal growth.
Changing your name can help sever ties with your ex-spouse and the shared identity you once had as a married couple. It allows you to establish a sense of individuality and regain a sense of independence. It enables both partners to be recognized as separate and distinct from their past relationship which can positively impact future personal and professional interactions and relationships.
Professional and Social Advantages:
Often, changing your name following a divorce can provide both professional and social advantages. It can create a more neutral professional image, free from any preconceived notions or assumptions, and prevent potential bias. It allows you to build a cohesive personal brand and professional reputation, making it easier for colleagues, clients and business contacts to recognize and remember you.
This also extends into personal networking opportunities and social relationships. Older social acquaintances may more readily be able to find and contact you and newer associates may feel more inclined to try and grow their relationship with you based on your new social status.
Cons of Changing Your Name After a Divorce:
Changing your name involves a series of legal and administrative processes, including updating your Social Security Card and other identification documents, bank accounts, credit cards, and much more. It can be time-consuming, and you may encounter difficulties in establishing your new identity.
The legal process for changing your name in the state of Florida involves initiating a petition with the Circuit Court of your residential jurisdiction. The Court will then review the petition and conduct a hearing to assess if all requirements have been fulfilled and if there are any valid grounds for denial. Upon approval, the court will issue a Final Judgment, granting you the legal authority to assume your chosen name.
Potential Impact on Children:
If you have children, changing your name may create confusion or emotional turmoil for them, especially if they are used to a particular family name. It is important to consider their feelings and discuss the potential impact before making a decision.
On a related note, minors may also petition for a name change following a divorce. If the parents agree on a name change, they can include this in a parenting plan to be approved by the court. If the parents disagree on a name change, a court will decide whether to allow it, based on the best interests of the child(ren).
If you share custody of your child(ren) with your ex-spouse, changing your name may complicate co-parenting communication and coordination. It can introduce an additional layer of complexity in terms of identification and recognition and require extra effort to ensure that both you and your ex-spouse are recognized as the parents of your child(ren). This is particularly the case in official documents and interactions with schools, healthcare providers and other institutions.
Changing your name can have professional implications, particularly if you have a well-established career and professional reputation. It can potentially lead to a loss of recognition or require additional effort to rebuild your professional network under a new name.
Deciding whether to change your name after a divorce is a deeply personal choice that should be considered carefully. While it offers emotional benefits and a sense of identity renewal, there are practical and legal implications to consider as well. Consulting with a family law attorney, such as the Parra Harris Family Law Firm, can provide you with the necessary guidance and support to navigate the legal process in Florida and make an informed decision about changing your name. Contact us, today.