When it’s time to file suit for divorce you’ll have a chance to ask to change your last name. While this is still predominantly a decision that women have to make, some men take on their spouse’s last name as a hyphenate or in addition to their own when they marry.
This isn’t a decision that should be made lightly or out of emotion. There’s a lot of red tape involved in updating your name with the Social Security Administration, the Department of Motor Vehicles, your passport, credit cards, etc.
By asking yourself some questions, you can arrive at a decision that will be right for you in your personal life and career.
How closely is your married name tied to your career and reputation?
If you built a business or a successful career under your married name, it could be financially costly to “re-brand” yourself with your maiden or previous name. Even if you haven’t been working outside the home, people in your work with charitable, social and community organizations may know you by your married name.
How uncomfortable will it be if your children have a different last name?
If you have children who have your spouse’s last name, your children may have strong feelings about you keeping your married name. If you don’t, it can feel like you’re distancing yourself, not just from the other parent, but from them. It can also make some parents feel less connected to their children.
How do you feel about your married name? What about your maiden name?
If your marriage was difficult, continuing to carry around your ex-spouse’s name can be emotionally difficult. On the other hand, how does your maiden name make you feel? If you’re in your 50s or 60s when you divorce, going back to a name you haven’t had since college can feel like you’re reverting to a person much different than who you are today.
This is a decision only you can make – perhaps in some consultation with your children. Your soon-to-be-Ex has no legal say in the matter. If you’re not certain just yet, you can always make the decision to change it later. It will take a few more steps, but it may be best to give yourself more time for reflection after the divorce is final.