Making The Complex

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What’s in a name? Deciding what surname to take after divorce

While they’re in the midst of a divorce, the last thing on some women’s minds may be what their last name will be after it’s all over. However, it’s an important decision — particularly if you have children — and requires careful consideration and some work.

The obvious choices may be keeping your married name or going back to your maiden name. However, some women actually use the opportunity to take a new last name, such as something with family sentiment.

If you go back to your maiden name and have children, what do you do about their names? It can be confusing for schools when a child does not have the same last name as a parent. If personnel aren’t familiar with you, they may have difficulty locating you in an emergency or hesitate to turn the child over to you. Some women who re-take their maiden name hyphenate their children’s names so that they have both their mothers’ and fathers’ surnames. Others change their children’s names to their maiden names, although that can understandably lead to conflict with the father.

One family-naming expert says there are several important things that every woman should do when changing her name after a divorce to help minimize stress and confusion later on. For example, she suggests discussing the options you are considering with those close to you. This can help you build support for the decision you ultimately make.

Once you’ve decided, make a list of everyone you need to inform. This includes just about everyone you associate with in your business and personal life, such as work associates, insurance companies, friends and your children’s schools. Your Louisiana divorce attorney can likely help you with a checklist and let you know what supporting documentation you need.

After you’ve made the change, own it. Don’t hesitate to firmly but politely correct people when they use your old name. If you don’t, it will only prolong the confusion.

Starting a new life after divorce doesn’t require taking on a new name or returning to your previous one. Your decision, whatever it is, is just one of many you will be making as you navigate the world again as a single woman. The important thing, as with all of your decisions, is to do what’s best for you and your children.

Source: Huffington Post, “Should You Drop Your Ex’s Last Name After Divorce? 5 Things To Consider” Lenore Skomal,, Jul. 27, 2014


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