If you are going through a divorce in Massachusetts and you want to change your name, you have three different options on changing your name. Here are some things you need to know about changing your name after a divorce in this state.
Option 1: Resuming a former name as part of the divorce judgment.
If you wish to resume a former name after a divorce in Massachusetts you can request the change name in your divorce complaint or petition for divorce. You don’t need to pay any extra fees or file any additional forms to do this. Your name will be changed automatically when your divorce is finalized and you will receive a divorce decree that shows your new name.
Option 2: Changing your name according to to common law to a former name or a different name.
Common law is a concept going back to the laws of England before the United States was created. Common law was declared by Courts and not created by statutes. Massachusetts recognizes a common law right to change your name. You can do this without a court order by merely using a new name consistently. This means that you have to notify everybody about your new name. You have to notify your municipality, state, and federal government as well as every institution or person you do business with. This is a valid way to change your name as long as you are not changing your name for fraudulent purposes.
Many people and institutions think that you need a court order to change your name. I always advise people you use the common law to change their name to print out the most recent case that recognizes this right to provide to people. Secretary of the Commonwealth v. City Clerk of Lowell, 373 Mass. 178 (1977)
Some people change their names by common law when they separate from their spouse and then have a judge order the change in the divorce decree.
Option 3: Changing your name to something else by court order.
If you want to change your name to something other than a former name, such as a new surname or a different first or middle name, you will need to file a separate petition for a name change in the Probate and Family Court in the county where you live. The court will schedule a hearing for your name change petition and notify you of the date and time. You will need to attend the hearing and explain why you want to change your name. The court may also require you to publish a notice of your name change petition in a newspaper at least 14 days before the hearing. The court will grant or deny your petition based on whether it is consistent with public interest and whether you have any fraudulent or illegal motives for changing your name.
After changing your name
Once your name is changed need to update your name on various official documents, such as your driver’s license, passport, social security card, bank accounts, credit cards, etc. You should contact each agency or institution that has your records and follow their procedures for changing your name.
Changing your name after a divorce can be a personal decision that reflects your identity and preferences. However, it can also involve some legal steps and costs that you should be aware of before making this choice. If you have any questions or concerns about changing your name after a divorce in Massachusetts, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process.