The Name Change Checklist – Divorce Edition

Last week I spent a collective 3 hours at the two favorite places in the country. The Social Security office and the DMV.

(Now, in it’s defense, I will say that the SS office was a pleasant experience…while the DMV, well, it was the typical DMV experience – long lines, rude and impatient staff and long wait times even for an appointment).

All this to change my name.

By the end of this little endeavor, changing back to my maiden name will have cost me about $500+ and a countless number of hours and forced smiles of patience. And after many fruitless searches on the internet, I’ve determined that, although there are many, many, many sites that gives tips and tricks and checklists on changing your name once you get married, there are very few resources when trying to reverse the process. So, consider this my public duty served in giving those that need it, a little insight on how to change your name in case of divorce.

You’re probably thinking, well, DUH. You just do everything in reverse. In some instances, yes, that’s true, but I’d rather not sift through all the congratulations, honeymoon plans, and stuff to find out how to get my name back!

A few months ago, I decided to change my name back to my maiden name. To read about it, click HERE. A trifecta of reasons kept me from changing it right then. I had my trip to China planned, and the plane tickets were already purchased in my name. My birthday was also in that time frame, and if I wanted to renew right then, I’d have to take a written driving test. Um, no thanks. And I was afraid that I wouldn’t get my passport back in time with my new name.

So, the plan was that after my trip, the first thing I would do is change my name back.

Step 1: Make sure you have an original CERTIFIED copy of your divorce decree. I thought I had a copy, but somehow it fell out of my divorce folder. I don’t remember it being certified anyway, so I had to order a new one. Cost: $26

Step 2: The first place you want to start is the Social Security office. Bring the divorce decree. Go to  to get your nearest location and if your location allows it, make an appointment. The wait wasn’t too bad even without an appointment, and the Fountain Valley office had a good process to filter people through quickly…and the workers were nice. Unlike the DMV, which is the next place you need to go. Cost: $0

Step 3: The DMV – first make an appointment. Second, put your armor on. Third bring your SS card (or receipt that you changed your name) AND that CERTIFIED copy of your divorce decree. Not only do the people that work there hate life, they hate you too. I also had to renew my license and retake my picture since I made the mistake of wearing something that made me look like I had a bad Jersey Shore orange tan. They wouldn’t accept my copy of the divorce decree, so I have to go back. Also, while you’re there, see if you can change your voter registration. If not, you’ll have to go to Cost: around $30  whatever the cost is for the life they sucked out of me.

Step 4: It ain’t official till it’s Facebook Official. Go onto Facebook and in the settings, you can change your name back, to much congratulations, likes and question marks from all your friends. Don’t forget to change all your other social media sites – LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Cost: $0

Step 5: Change the signatures in your automatic email signatures and email addresses. Cost: $0

Step 6: Get a new passport photo and mail it in to get a brand new one. Yes, you lose all your cool country stamps. Again. Being the one who has to change your name sucks sometimes. www.Travel.State.goc/passport Cost: $110 PLUS…

Step 7: If you have a brand new two year Visa like I do in my passport for China, you MAY have to pay an additional $180 to replace it. I’m not sure yet, so we shall see next year when I go out of the country. Everyone cross your fingers for me.

Step 8: Bring your new Driver’s License (with hopefully your new pretty picture) to your bank and change your bank accounts and order new checks. Also, make sure that your savings, IRAs, and all that good stuff is changed (as well as the emergency contacts and beneficiaries) Cost: about $15 a box of checks

Step 9: Change your credit cards. I would just wait and as you pay each bill this month, change it right on the slip. Cost: $0

Step 10: Update any stocks, IRAs, mortgages, leases or money markets. Don’t forget the life insurance, too. Cost: $0

Step 11: Order a credit report to make sure all old accounts are closed, and no one is using your old name Cost: $0

Step 12: Go to your company’s HR and change your tax forms, email address, and any other pertinent documents Cost: $0

Step 13: Update your health insurance cards Cost: $0

Step 14: Change the name on your utility and cell phone bills Cost: $0

Step 15: Change your name at the gyms, associations and organizations you belong to Cost: $0

So, it has been a difficult and costly endeavor to change my name back to my maiden name, BUT totally worth it. Now, one day, when I get remarried, I get to do it all over again!


2 thoughts on “The Name Change Checklist – Divorce Edition

  1. Okay, so my “certified divorce decree” was what the county sent me when I first filed that said the date my divorce would be final. I thought there HAD to be something else I’d be sent, but nope – that’s it. So I took it to Social Security and it worked.

    BUT, then I took it to the DMV, and they said, there’s supposed to be something else. I’m like, no, this is all the county sent me. They said to me… no, you are supposed to have something that says your name is changing back. I don’t know if they thought I had to bring my marital settlement agreement or WHAT… but finally the girl went to get her supervisor and the supervisor “made an exception.” (The exception either truly being an exception, or the girl working with me realized she was wrong and didn’t want to admit it… I think it’s the later.)

  2. … and hopefully this is a tale to be told and one that you can look on and chuckle at 🙂 except maybe for that remarried part 😉 Sigh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *