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How to Legally Change Your Name After Divorce

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. 

These immortal words were spoken by Juliet because she was not allowed to associate with Romeo, a Montague. Juliet was reasoning that names are mere convention and have no real meaning. While Juliet may not agree, our surnames do convey significant meaning.

By entering into a marriage or civil partnership with another person and taking their surname, it signifies the starting of a new opportunity together. With the divorce rate in the UK around 42%, many people choose to revert back to their maiden name. In this article, we will explain how to legally change your name after divorce or civil partnership dissolution in the UK.

29 June 2023
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Do I have to change my name after a divorce in the UK?

No, there is no legal requirement for you to change your surname following your divorce or dissolution. Changing your name after divorce is your choice.

Should I change my name following divorce or dissolution?

There is no definitive answer as to whether you should undergo a name change after divorce; the decision is entirely yours. Much will depend on the circumstances of the separation, the extent to which you will maintain a relationship with your partner, and how your children might feel about the change. If there are children involved in the divorce proceedings, you may wish to consider family mediation.

Just as changing your name to that of your ex-partner may have represented the start of a new future together, it may be that you wish to make a clean break and put the relationship behind you.

How can I change my name following divorce or dissolution?

If you have recently divorced, you can simply revert to your birth surname. All you need to do is apply to have your name changed on your official documents (i.e. driving licence, ID, and passport). To do this, you will need to provide your final order (confirming your divorce, original marriage or civil partnership certificate, and original birth certificate. 

Alternatively, you can apply for a ‘Deed Poll” and provide this with your application to the DVLA or passport office.

What if I don’t have all of the necessary documents to change my name?

If you don’t have all of the necessary documents needed to change your name, you can either order replacements or apply for a ‘Deed Poll’. You may also wish to apply for a Deed Poll if you want to keep your original documents or if you have not yet received your final order.

How do I apply for a ‘Deed Poll’?

In order to change your name (e.g. from your married name to your maiden name), you will need to apply for a Deed Poll. This can be done online on the UK Deed Poll Office website or through a family law Solicitor

When completing the form, you will need to provide your contact details and the reason for the name change – i.e. civil partnership, divorce, gender reassignment, marriage, a preference for a different name, if you have been widowed, or any other reason. You will also need to formally declare that you:

  • You will no longer be using your previous name

  • You will always be using your new name, and

  • You want other people to address you by your new name

You will need to pay a Deed Poll fee of £18.50 (this can be paid online at the same time that you apply). Deed Poll applications are typically processed on the same day as submission (not at weekends) as long as they are received before 3pm. Once processed, your Deed Poll with your new name will be sent to you by post within 2 working days. 

When you receive your new Deed Poll by post, you will then need to sign all of the copies sent to you – and have this witnessed.

Other considerations

It is important to take the necessary steps to inform any other organisations that you deal with about your name change. This may include:

  • Your bank/building society

  • Insurance company

  • Employer

  • HMRC

  • Utility companies

  • Local authority (for your council tax)

  • Benefits office

  • Doctor/dentist

  • Pension provider

  • Child’s school

  • The electoral register 

  • You will also need to think about a passport name change after your divorce. 

Each organisation will have its own process for name changes. In some cases, you may need to complete and submit a dedicated form to register a name change. 

Final words on changing your name after a divorce

Ultimately it is your choice to change your surname following divorce. Reverting to your birth name following divorce or dissolution is, from a legal perspective, extremely straightforward. It may involve, however, lots of administration and form-filling. For this reason, it is advisable to keep a record of all of the businesses and organisations you need to change your name with and note the progress of each. If you are going through or about to go through a divorce, take a look at our recent blog on the top five things you need to know about divorce.

Guillaumes LLP Solicitors is a full-service law firm based in Weybridge, Surrey. We have a highly experienced family law team who can assist you with your divorce or dissolution. To make an appointment, please get in touch or call us on 01932 840 111.