Changing back your name after you separate
Along with flashing your wedding ring and calling your boyfriend your husband, proudly announcing yourself as “Mrs _____” was one of the exciting signs that you were now one half of a married couple. Of course, that was then and this is now.
Now you want to revert back to your maiden name, possibly with a growled “it’s Ms” thrown in for good measure.
Once your divorce is through, it’s easy enough to change your name on all official documents such as your passport, driving licence etc by sending either the original or a copy of the Decree Absolute depending on what the organisation asks for.
If you want to revert back to your maiden name before your divorce is finalised or even take on an altogether different name (Mrs Pitt anyone?) you can do this at any time and don’t need to register it legally. As long as you can be identified by your new name and can provide evidence of the change that’s enough. A word of caution however is that the amount of evidence you need for different institutes will differ.
There are four ways of showing that you changed your name: a letter, public announcement, Statutory Declaration or Deed Poll.
…coming from a “responsible person” such as a GP, solicitor or MP to advise that they knew you in your former name and that your new name is to be used permanently is enough evidence for many purposes but will not allow you to obtain a passport in your new name.
A public announcement…
…is one either in a local or national newspaper which announces that you have stopped using your old name and begun using your new one at all times. A copy of the announcement is then the evidence you need to prove you changed your name. Again, this is not sufficient for obtaining a passport.
A Statutory Declaration…
…is one which is prepared by a solicitor (normally taking about an hour and costing under £100) is a statement you make, sign and then swear to (either on the bible or “attest to” if you have no religious beliefs) that you have taken on a new name. Most often this is enough evidence that you have changed your name although you should check that this is sufficient for your own particular requirements. It is also the most expensive option.
A Deed Poll…
…is a legal document which is signed in the same way as a contract, only whereas a contract is between two or more people a Deed Poll is only between one. In this contract you undertake to go by your new name, inform everyone of the change and not change your name for illicit purposes. The document provides the evidence that you have changed your name and copies of this document when sent to the bank, passport office, etc are registered in the same way as your marriage certificate was originally used to show your change of name back then. Once the document has been completed it doesn’t need to be registered anywhere and you can begin using it immediately for free or for a relatively small cost if you want it signed by a solicitor.
Bear in mind that as with any bureaucratic process, it will take a little time to contact all organisations and send all the paperwork. Irritatingly you may also find that some organisations want a Decree Absolute rather than a Deed Poll. But stick with it and your old name will come back to you as if it had never gone.
Lucy Davis is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and a TV Producer. She divorced 7 years ago. She is a passionate advocate for exploring the potential for change and creativity that can result from the trauma of divorce.