Although social attitudes on the issue have changed quite a bit, a significant portion of women (and some men) assume their spouse’s last name when they marry.
While that’s a cultural convention that’s still pretty common, it’s much less clear what people should do when the marriage doesn’t work out. Should you change your name back again when you divorce? Here are a few things you may want to consider before committing to any particular approach.
Will it give you a stronger sense of independence?
If your marriage was positively stifling or abusive, you may want to drop your married name so that you can better assert your separate identity and get a fresh start. The name change may help you create a sort of emotional detachment from the past.
Could it create cultural or family confusion?
If you have children, they may not react well to the news that you won’t continue to share the same last name. That can cause some emotional responses and a crisis of identity for them. You may also dislike the idea of not having the same last name with your children, or it may fly in the face of cultural norms and create tensions you would rather do without.
Will it help or hurt your professional career?
If you’re well-established in your professional career and recognized through your married name, it’s entirely reasonable to not want to change. Rebuilding that reputation may not come easily. On the other hand, if your professional career is tied to your spouse’s, you may want to change your name to create some distance.
Does it seem like too much hassle?
Changing your name in a divorce isn’t hard, but updating everything you own can be a different story. You have to update everything from your driver’s license and credit cards to your bank accounts and your medical records. Some people simply don’t want deal with all that.
Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. What you do should depend on your preferences, your priorities and your self-defined needs. A name, after all, is uniquely personal. Exploring your options further by seeking legal guidance may help make it easier to decide.