How to Change Your Name After Divorce

Changing your name can be done at the time of divorce or at a later date, and is easy and cost-free.

It is slightly easier to restore your last name or change your current name during the divorce process. If you are considering this, notify your attorney before the divorce is finalized so it is handled as part of the judgment or settlement.

It is slightly easier to restore your last name or change your current name during the divorce process.

Sharing Your New Name

If you have children, consider the impact of your decision to change your name, and give them a simple explanation for the switch. The children will likely continue to use their father’s last name after the divorce is completed, so tell them the truth so they feel pride in their birth name.

Telling your family, friends, and acquaintances may require a more in-depth explanation, or none at all depending on if they knew you before you were married. Be prepared to answer these types of questions.

Changing Your Name

Changing your name requires a few simple steps to follow:

1. Go to your California County Clerk’s Office and bring:

  • A black pen to fill out any forms (black ink is required)
  • Your divorce case number and stamped petition
  • The date the judgment of dissolution was filed with the court
  • A self-address stamped envelope

2. When at the court, ask the clerk for two D-20 forms, entitled, “Ex-Parte Application for Restoration to Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order.” Having two allows you to start over if you make a mistake.

3. At the top of the form where it says “Attorney or Party Without Attorney” write in your current name and address.

4. Under “Marriage of” write-in who was the Petitioner and who was Respondent in your divorce. Reference your dissolution papers to be sure.

5. Print neatly under item #2 and be very clear about what your NEW name will be (possibly former name too).

6. Print your new name on item #3 (again).

7. Sign using your married name on the signature line.

8. The court clerks are not normally enthusiastic due to being overworked, understaffed, and having processed thousands of name changes. While this is an emotionally-laden issue for you, don’t expect the same reaction from the clerk.

You may receive evidence of your name change that same day, or later in the mail. Until you obtain proof of the change, you can sign with both signatures as long as your new name is preceded by “aka.”

With the D-20 form, you can change your name on other accounts and entities, including the Department of Motor Vehicles. All you need to do is bring the form to the DMV to get a new license, which makes it easier to change your Social Security information as well as your bank and credit card accounts.