Dec 14

How Does a Woman Go Back to Her Maiden Name After a Divorce?

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A very common question for any matrimonial attorney is how does the wife go back to the use of her maiden name after the divorce. New York Domestic Relations Law 240-a addresses this issue. That section provides:

Judgment or decree; additional provision. In any action or proceeding brought under the provisions of this chapter wherein all or part of the relief granted is divorce or annulment of a marriage any interlocutory or final judgment or decree shall contain, as a part thereof, the social security numbers of the named parties in the action or proceeding, as well as a provision that each party may resume the use of his or her premarriage surname or any other former surname.


In any New York State Judgment of Divorce, there will be a provision stating:

Ordered and Adjudged that (plaintiff) (defendant) is authorized to resume the use of her maiden name or other former surname, to wit _________(prior surname)


Please note that the Judgment states that the former-wife “is authorized” resume use of the maiden name.  There are two consequences of this language.  First, the language does not create any obligation on the ex-wife to use her maiden name.  Secondly, the divorce does not actually change the former-wife’s name automatically.  The ex-wife must provide a copy of the judgment of divorce to any agency where she is seeking to have her name changed.  Additionally, many government agencies require a certified copy as opposed to a photocopy.


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