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C. Eric Schmidt - Attorney at Law

Marilyn Gale Vilyus - Founding Attorney - Semi-retired - of counsel to C.E. Schmidt and Associates, Attorneys at Law

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        Houston, Texas 77079



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Should I Change My Name when I Get Divorced?

By:  Marilyn Gale Vilyus

 
There is no single answer to this question, but there are several factors to consider!
 
If you think that there is a good chance that you will want to change your name in the future, you SHOULD do it at the time of the divorce because this way there is no cost!  It is INCLUDED cost free as a part of the divorce. 
 
Surprisingly, you can even get the name change included even if you have not plead for it in your Original Petition for Divorce!
 
If the attorney does not mention it when you are at Court finalizing your case (ie. at the "prove-up"), the Judge will often ask the client if they would like to include a "name change!"  Even though it was not included in the divorce decree, the Judge will just "hand write" the name change language into the decree.
 
If you do the name change separately from the divorce process, it is more complicated.  You will have to pay a filing fee for the name change petition.  If you hire an attorney, you will have to pay for his time.  Two sets of fingerprint cards are required.  This is done usually at one of the locations of the Department of Public Safety.  (Note:  not all locations provide this service.)  Sometimes, the figerprinting process does not go smoothly and has to be redone! 
 
The F.B.I. and Department of Public Safety conduct investigations.  In summary, it takes more time to accomplish as a separate legal lawsuit -- as opposed to being a part of the divorce.
 
 In either case, the person must testify that they are not changing their name to avoid creditors or to avoid criminal prosecution.  As a result of our current world political climate, the new name must also be a name that the person has used before -- a maiden name, for example, or sometimes a name from a previous marriage.
 
Although it is usually the wife who takes advantage of a divorce to change her name, husbands  can do it as well!  The man may have always hated his name and may want to use his middle name!
 
Whether male or female, it is important to remember that one's middle name should be specified if it is your intent to keep it as a part of your new name in the future!  This is a case of "use it or you will lose it!"
 
If you are a woman with kids, the natural question arises as to whether or not changing your name will complicate your child's life!  There is no clear answer here.  Sometimes, it can be confusing when the mom and child have different names.  However, in today's world, this is also a very common occurrence!
 
In the end, this is purely an individual decision! 
 
The best thing to remember is to think about the "pro's" and "cons" of a "name change" BEFORE your divorce is due to be finalized so that you can think it through!   Otherwise, you may find yourself making a hasty decision while you are standing in front of the Judge, and you might wish that you had done otherwise -- regardless of which way you go!
 
 
 
 
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