I was reading a column in the Miami Herald where a divorcee complained about the red tape involved in getting her maiden name back. In this case, she hadn't requested the change during the divorce hearing when the Judge would have included it in the final divorce decree. Requesting it later in the process becomes more cumbersome and the procedure will vary from state to state.
Normally a change of name form can be filed in the probate or family court in the county where the divorce took place. There are some court fees and proof of identity will be necessary. In the letter to the Herald, the writer paid $35 for a name change form and was asked to produce a set of fingerprints which can be secured from any police department in Miami-Dade County for $5.
Women may start the name change maze as follows:
1. After securing a certified copy of the final divorce decree from the court or your attorney, go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and apply for a new driver's license.
2. With your maiden name on this photo ID, go to the Social Security Office nearest you. Bring your original divorce decree papers, complete the name change form SS-5 and apply for a new Social Security card. There is no charge for this form which is available at the Social Security Web site. Proof of your identity will be necessary.
3. Notify your bank which also may want to see the divorce decree as well as another form of ID.
4. If employed, notify your employer and file a new W-4 form.
5. Notify the post office of the name change.
6. Notify credit card companies, utilities, insurance companies, voter registration, as well as state and local tax offices.
7. Tell your family and friends to start using your maiden name.
It's not so simple for women to return to their maiden name. Due to identity theft and privacy issues, proof of identity is required. I don't recommend sending in your original divorce decree to the Social Security or other government offices because it could get lost. It's really best to request a name change at the time of the divorce for a more simplified process.
The D-Word: Reclaiming Your Maiden Name, a video of four women discussing the process of getting their maiden name back.