The Pew Research Center reports that 80% of women in a recent survey took their husband’s last name when they got married. Following a divorce, however, many women are eager to reclaim their maiden names. Some also want to change their children’s names.
Changing names after a divorce, for both yourself and your children, is a process that requires adherence to specific legal procedures.
Filing a petition for name change
In New Jersey, the first step in changing a name post-divorce involves submitting a petition to the Superior Court. This formal request should list the present and desired names, explain the grounds for the name change and explain the details of your divorce. The identical process applies to children.
Submitting the petition to the Superior Court
The next step is to submit the petition at the Superior Court in the county where you and the children live. You can also submit it online. In some instances, a court appearance might be necessary, depending on the county’s requirements.
Paying the fee
In New Jersey, a fee is applicable for each application packet. When altering the names of minor children, you must submit separate applications for them. However, in specific extenuating circumstances, the court may waive this fee.
Publishing your intention
Historically, the law required people to publish a notice about any impending name changes in a local newspaper. However, recent legislative changes in New Jersey have done away with this requirement in some cases.
Receiving the decree
If the court approves your petition, you will receive a decree officially sanctioning the name changes. This decree acts as legal proof and is necessary to update other documents such as driver’s licenses, school records and Social Security cards.
When changing the names of children, both parents must consent. If one parent does not agree, the petitioning parent must prove to the court that the name change is in the child’s best interest.