Reclaim Your Maiden Name

Let's Untie the Knot | Reclaim Your Maiden Name

When a woman is seeking a divorce, she often wants to restore her maiden name.  Just as taking your spouse’s name when you got married indicated that you were one unit, legally reclaiming your maiden name can signify that you no longer wish to be connected legally or emotionally.  Restoring your maiden name may be one way of announcing your independence to the world.  Legally, this is a very simple process, however, being called by your former name in your day-to-day life requires significant time and effort on your part.  In a divorce in Oregon, there is no need to file for a name change, so long as you are changing your name back to the one you had prior to marriage and the court orders the name change in your proceeding.  You will also have to update key documents such as your driver’s license, power of attorney, social security card and passport.

Getting people to know you by your maiden name can be a difficult process.  If you have been married for a long time, friends, colleagues and anyone you deal with in your social or professional life probably knows you only by your married name.  Professionally, a name change can be confusing to clients or patients and it will take time for your network to get used to referring to you by your maiden name.  In addition, if you have children, you will need to notify their teachers, health care providers, coaches and even parents of their friends about the change.  That said, reclaiming your maiden name can serve an important symbolic purpose and you should not let fear or inconvenience deter you.

A few simple steps can make this transition much easier.  Send an email to everyone in your professional circle about the change.  Update your memberships to professional organizations, alumni associations, community boards or any other groups to which you belong.  Finally, use social media to your benefit.  Update your social media accounts with your maiden name, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Gmail.  You can even use these platforms to make an announcement of the change.  For some women, reclaiming their maiden name can be a crucial step in marking their newfound independence.  For others, a “name is just a name” and they don’t want to deal with the inconvenience, any potential negative impact professionally and confusion of having a different last name than their children.  Every woman’s situation is different and each individual should decide what works best for her post-divorce life. 

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