While changing a last name is relatively simple when marrying, returning to a maiden name can involve more hassle. The easiest way to change one's name is to ask a judge to order one's maiden name restored when finalizing a divorce decree. Challenges might arise without this order or when trying to change a child's last name.
If a court order restoring a name change is finalized, one can use a copy to make changes for things like identification cards and bank accounts. If the finalized order does not include a name change, one may need to file an application to add the name into an existing divorce decree. When one cannot get a court request approved, using documents with a maiden name like a birth certificate or passport might work instead. One could have to fill out some paperwork when returning to an old name this way.
Traditionally, a father can insist that any children still use his last name after a divorce as long as he fulfills his obligations to the children. However, a court could decide to grant a name change when looking at factors like the relationship between mother and child, the child's age, how long the current last name has been in use and any benefits or negatives of changing the name.
Many parents enter into conflict when trying to decide about child custody issues in a divorce and have trouble forming an agreement. In some cases, a judge makes determinations with the best interests of any children involved in mind without input from the parents. While the process is emotional, avoiding court intervention often gives a couple more freedom when forming a parenting plan. An attorney may be necessary when discussing last names, child support and custody with a former spouse.