No One’s to Blame but I’m Changing my Name

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You and your spouse decided to separate. Instead of spending months in court, you opted for a collaborative divorce. You both hired attorneys that helped you save money and reach a settlement agreement. This divorce process sounds too good to be true—but it’s not. Collaborative divorce can help you and your spouse work out your differences in a relatively short and low-cost manner.

Despite resolving your issues, you want to change your name. States vary on how they handle the name changing process. New Jersey is straightforward. The easiest way to change your name is to include the request in the divorce complaint or answer (if you are the defendant).

While you’re in the process of obtaining a divorce, tell your attorney that you want to change your name. During the final hearing, you will be required to state the name you would like to use. You will also be required to state whether you are changing your name to avoid creditors and whether you have filed for bankruptcy under your married name. Name changes are routinely granted.

If you choose to change your name after your divorce, you will need to go through a separate legal process by filing a court petition. A post-judgment motion to return to your maiden name will need to be filed. Remember to include a Notice of Motion, a Certification, a proposed form of Order, and Proof of Service to your ex-spouse. After you petition to the court, obtain the certified divorce decree from the Clerk’s office. You may need to pay an additional fee.

After you change your name, you can go to the Social Security Administration and Motor Vehicle Commission, along with other agencies, and indicate that you would like to change your current name.

You don’t have to change your name back to your maiden name. However, you may resume to your maiden name, former name, or any other surname. If this is your second or subsequent marriage, you may return to your prior name.
New Jersey law does not require you to change your name after your divorce. Even if your ex-spouse demands that you revert back to your maiden name, you are not required to do so. Whether you choose to change your name is solely up to you.

[1] “How to Change Your Name in New Jersey.” Marriage Name Change,