During the dissolution process, there are many topics that need to be addressed. The “big three” include child custody, child support, and dividing assets and liabilities. However, there are often numerous other issues that may be equally important to one or both of the parties.
One of these potential issues is the wife legally changing her name back from her married last name to her maiden name or other name. While this is not a particularly difficult process legally, it may be a bit of a challenge/process to change on all documents (mail, credit cards, etc.).
Also, a soon-to-be ex-husband cannot demand a wife not retain his name. This is the woman’s decision.
Generally, in a dissolution petition, the wife should set out as one of the points in her petition that she wishes for her maiden name to be restored. The Court will then Order same as part of the dissolution decree.
Indiana law creates a provision for the maiden name change. In fact, the statue reads that if a woman desires her name to be restored to her maiden name, she needs to request same in her petition for dissolution as part of the relief sought1. The Court will then order the name change.
Not including this in the petition can make the process more difficult and time-consuming. For example, if the husband files the divorce, he obviously will not likely ask for the wife’s maiden name to be restored.
In this situation, to ensure that the desire to restore the maiden name is before the Court, the wife may have to file her own cross-petition for dissolution after the husband files. This will allow the Court to have the request in the petition to rule on same.
If the name change is requested in the petition, the Court should grant same. It is reversible error (on appeal, the case can be sent back to the trial court to correct the issue) to not grant a name change if this is properly before the Court. Therefore, if requested, the name change should be granted without need for evidence or any other supplemental information.
Another potential issue arises if the wife fails to include the request in her petition. If this happens, and the divorce is finalized without an order regarding the maiden name change, there is another avenue to name change. At any time during the divorce process, the divorce petition may be amended to request this relief.
After the divorce is final, the woman has to file a legal filing for a name change in the local court2. This is subject to legal publication and is time consuming and expensive to complete, but it can be done after dissolution has been finalized if a name change was not requested.
Ultimately, if you want your name changed as a female upon divorce, it is one of those little details that should be addressed during the divorce, not after that fact.
We hope that this blog post has been informative regarding the process for restoring a maiden name. Simply, one must just request this in her petition, or file a cross-petition if husband files the initial one, or after that time, but before divorce file a request to amend the petition to address the matter.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.