Life After Divorce: Name Change

Life After Divorce: Name Change

Names: We judge ethnicity by names. We judge gender by names. We judge nationality by names. There is even a bible verse about the importance of a good name. Names carry the burden of identity--good or bad. A marriage potentially brings pride and joy at adding a new aspect of identity to your life, but a divorce offers a crisis of, or rejoicing in, identity all because of a name. Names are powerful.

The question of the name is this: Should you change your last name? Should you keep it?

On the practical side: Remember, that changing your name during the divorce costs nothing, but after everything is signed, a legal name change does cost money. If you even have a doubt, it might be worth the change at the time of the divorce. Finances after divorce can be difficult to manage. Don’t count on the availability of an extra couple of hundred dollars once you have divorced--you may find you have other more pressing expenses to prioritize.

Aside from the practical angle, consider how the name affects you. There is something to be said about the freedom and confidence felt after discarding your former last name and reclaiming your identity. This move can help you let go of the past and move toward new goals for your new life.

There is also the need to grieve after a divorce. Depending on circumstances, changing your name might be too painful.The security and comfort in keeping the last name of your former spouse might be necessary to help process your new life. The person you were with your former spouse might be what you felt was a true reflection of who you always desired to be, and that’s fine. You can take your time. The person you became after marriage, the life built and lived together, are in that last name in a way. Keeping or changing your last name depends on how the name affects you.

If you have children, keeping your last name, the name you share with them, might help them through the divorce as well. With so much change and loss, consider how sharing that idea of family, encapsulated in a last name, might help them cope.

Changing your last name, or holding on to it, comes with a balance of practicality and emotion. In the end, think of your identity, and the future of that identity, and try to move forward from that space.