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Can I Restore my Maiden Name After Divorce?

Upon divorce, many women who chose to take on their husband’s last name during marriage often desire to resume their maiden name once the divorce is finalized. This is a common desire, but surprisingly, it is not widely known how to go about accomplishing it.

According to Georgia law a wife may seek the restoration of her prior last name or her maiden name during a divorce. In order to do so, she must request that her prior last name be restored in either her Petitioner for Divorce or her Answer. Once the divorce is granted, the judge will also grant her request to have her name restored via a decree in the Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce. See O.C.G.A. §§ 19-5-12 and 19-5-16. In order to restore her maiden name on legal documents or forms of identification such as a driver’s licenses, bank account records, social security cards or passports, an ex-wife must generally present a certified copy of her Decree of Divorce to the agency issuing the legal document or identification.

But, what happens if a woman does not request a name change in her divorce pleadings because she was unsure whether she desired to restore her last name? In this case, the woman would have to file a Petition for Name Change at the Superior Court in the county in which she lives. O.C.G.A. § 19-12-1. After filing this petition, she must also publish a notice in the county where she lives outlining her intent to change her name and the new name she wishes to take. Id. Once this notice has been published for the requisite amount of time, and the court grants her petition, a woman seeking to change her name after divorce may request from the clerk of the court where she filed her petition a certificate of change of name. O.C.G.A. §19-12-3. With this certificate, a woman may go about changing her name on identification, bank accounts, and other accounts and legal documents.

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