So many husbands, so many last names to choose from.
And so many questions about what’s legal and what’s not when it comes to choosing — and sticking — to a last name when you’ve been married multiple times.
Say you divorce husband number two, and want husband number one's last name again, like Luann deLesseps, who said she didn't even get around to (legally) adopting D'Agostino following her short-lived marriage to Tom. Or Yolanda (formerly Foster) who went back to Hadid, to match her children, following her divorce from David Foster. For Scheana Shay, the alliteration may be the allure, but Scheana kept Shay, even though she called it quits wit her ex, Mike Shay, and the duo didn't have any children.
Can you really pull a last name switcheroo whenever you want, just like that?
Name change laws all vary from state to state but, according to Legal Zoom, where you can file for a name change, any adult 18 or older can request a name change from the court, as long as the purpose is not to defraud creditors or flee from criminal charges.
Specifically, if a woman wants to use her first husband's name after divorcing her second husband, the procedure will depend on "whether she has used the name before and whether the divorce has been finalized.” In other words, if you’ve never used your first husband’s last name, it’s unlikely you would start after your second divorce.
Divorce filings typically allow a woman to include a name change, but the choice is limited to surnames she has used in the past. “In Texas, for example, a wife divorcing her second husband could choose to resume the use of her maiden surname or that of her first husband. If she did not use her first husband's surname during that marriage, however, she may not adopt that name in the divorce decree,” says the report.
In California, you can file an “Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name” to request a name change after your divorce has been finalized, in order resume using your maiden name or another former name.
Most states go by this rule: “If you have never used your first husband's name, your state may require you to file a petition to change your name and attend a hearing unrelated to the divorce. In Texas, for example, you may download a name change petition from the county website, sign it before a notary, attach a completed fingerprint card, and file the documents at the courthouse. In the petition, you must state your current name, reason for the change and your criminal history. At the hearing, the judge will sign the name change order you present to her unless she finds there is a reason to deny the change.”
If you have kids:
Like Yolanda, if you have children from your second marriage who use their father's surname, you can request to change yours back to that surname. “You do not need permission from your previous husband to use his name. Changing your name, however, does not absolve you from paying debts accumulated under another name, allow you to change your Social Security number or erase any criminal record you might have under another name. You must make arrangements to change your name on your driver's license, Social Security card, passport, and other official documents.”
If you have kids from a second marriage, you cannot change their names to a first husband's name unless the second husband agrees.
Despite many successful marriages, most experts say your easiest option is to do nothing at all and keep your maiden name on all official documents. You can also take your spouse’s name legally, but keep yours professionally, especially if you have built a career where you are known easily by your name, like Amy Schumer. You can also hyphenate your last name with your maiden name and his last name.
If you insist on changing your last name, you will have to pay a fee to change your surname to your husband’s, and sites like MissNowMrs.com, assist people with the forms and fees.
When women choose to either keep their married name (after a divorce) or return to a second husband’s surname, it most often has to do with kids, consistency of identity, it’s a prestigious name and it keeps you tied to money, fame, or certain social circles, or it’s just a huge hassle to do the paperwork.
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