Can You Force Your Ex To Change Her Last Name?

changing last nameCan a woman keep her married name after divorce?

There are so many major issues to resolve in a divorce – from property division and finances, to figuring out child support and spousal maintenance. With so much on the line, it doesn’t make much sense to get caught up on something as seemingly trivial as a name change after divorce.

However, this is a common scenario, especially in contentious divorces. If you’re left feeling like you got the short end of the stick in your case, you might be wondering can you make your ex-wife change her last name.

Men might feel their ex is clinging to their last name as a way to get back at them. Or maybe they come to the conclusion that a divorce should signify a last split, and their ex not changing her last name after divorce symbolically prevents them from moving on.

No matter your reason for wanting the change, there is no legal obligation that requires her changing last name after divorce. Since you lack any legal means to force her into changing her surname after divorce, you’re best off trying to move on.

Can a divorced woman keep her last name?

There are a number of reasons your ex might want to keep your last name, most of which are actually rational. It might be difficult for you to see it, but the reason most ex-wives keep their ex-husband’s last name isn’t to try to aggravate him.

The kids – Perhaps the most common reason an ex might avoid changing back to her maiden name after divorce is simply to keep her name consistent with the children. It’s reasonable for your ex to want to have the same last name as her kids as you probably feel the same way. Would you agree to let her change her name so long as she can change your kids’ last name? If you’re unwilling to have a different last name than the children then it’s unreasonable to expect your ex to be fine with only changing hers.

Her career – Another reason many women consider when they’re thinking about keeping their married name after divorce is their career. It’s not fair to expect your ex, who might have spent years building her reputation and professional contacts under her married name, to all of a sudden switch her last name. You might be getting a divorce, but your wife has probably spent years building her personal brand around that name. As the number of women in the workplace rises, this will likely become an increasingly common reason for women to keep their ex-husband’s last name.

Marriage length – The length of the marriage could also affect a woman’s thought process when she’s considering reasons to change her name after divorce. It’s possible she’ll have held that name longer than their maiden name. It makes sense she might feel more comfortable with her married name than the one she hasn’t officially held for who knows how many years. She’s lived the better part of her life under your last name and more than likely identifies more strongly with it.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

What can you do about it?

“Can I make my ex-wife change her name back after divorce?” Legally? No, not really.

Since there is no real legal action you can take to force your ex to change her name, you’re left with minimal options. You may just have to accept her decision to keep it, even if it drives you crazy.

Negotiate – Your best bet might be to negotiate for her to include changing back to her maiden name in the divorce decree. If it’s very important issue for you, you might be able to give some leeway in an area she feels passionately about. In a contentious divorce, this might not be possible.

Cut a deal – Many women are hyphenating their last name after divorce. Your last name will still be part of her name, but there’s really nothing you can do about it. It’s really not worth harboring bitter feelings over.

Move on – If all else fails, you’re just going to have to figure out how to move on with your life. This is admittedly difficult to do if you are fundamentally opposed to your ex keeping your last name, but there just isn’t much you can do. Are you really going to harbor resentment the rest of your life, or are you going to work to find a way to let go? With everything else you’ve gone through in your divorce, this really isn’t something you should get too hung up on.

Your ex keeping your last name might feel like the final thing that’s going to push you over the edge after a contentious divorce. After all she’s put you through, can’t she at least let you have your name?

If you think your ex is merely holding onto the name out of spite, don’t make a big deal out of it. If it doesn’t seem like you care all that much, she might just change it on her own.

You should also understand the legitimate reasons for her not the change her name. Regardless of whether or not you agree with those reasons, there’s nothing you can do about it legally.

Keep in mind that there are likely hundreds if not thousands of strangers out there who coincidentally share your last name as well. There is no point in getting worked up over something you have no control over, especially when there is no legal ground to stand on.

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