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Women pay $400 to reclaim maiden name after divorce

Changing back your maiden name after divorce may seem simple, but Florida laws can complicate this relatively small alteration. Women who wait until their uncontested divorce is finalized to change their names could be facing a $400 fee to change their name, a fact that is often overlooked during the break-up. Florida women can change their name for free as long as their divorce case is still open, according to media reports, but waiting on the name change can be financially and emotionally costly.

Florida law does not differentiate between restoring an old name and assuming a new one. Officials are not sure how many name-change petitions are attributable to women who simply want to regain their maiden names, but it is clear that many are caught unaware after their divorce case. The fee for name changing has reportedly doubled since 2003. Recent divorcees have the option to petition the court to reopen their divorce cases at a cost of $50, but judges are often hesitant to grant those requests.

Despite the high price of changing your name, divorce experts recommend waiting to make the decision if you are not absolutely sure that you want to revert to your maiden name. Divorce proceedings are obviously the easiest time to make that decision, but assuming your maiden name again can be a hassle, especially if you have built a professional career with your married name. You may also want to keep the same last name as your children for convenience. The decision is absolutely personal.

Experts stress the fact that husbands cannot bar their ex-wives from keeping their married names if they choose to do so. They also cannot prevent women from changing back to their maiden names.

If you choose to restore your maiden name, you must ensure that you obtain a new social security card with your maiden name listed. You should also change all bank accounts and other key documents to be aligned with your new last name.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Women can regain maiden name free in divorce - or pay $400 if they wait," Amy Pavuk, Feb. 2, 2013.

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