Changing Your Name in a New Jersey Divorce

How to change your name is a frequently asked question by a person going through a divorce in NJ. Often a spouse who took on the other spouse’s last name (also called surname) will change it back to a maiden name or a previously used last name, rather than be known by a former spouse’s last name. Fortunately, this is one aspect of a divorce that can be straightforward and relatively easy to accomplish.

Request A Name Change In Initial Filing For Divorce In NJ

To initiate a divorce, a spouse will file a “complaint” for divorce and the other spouse will respond by filing a “counterclaim”. Regardless of whether you filed a complaint or a counterclaim, a spouse can use this initial filing to request to change his or her name. There is no additional charge for changing your name. Judges routinely approve such requests, unless you are requesting to change your name to avoid a legal proceeding, for example to avoid creditors or arrest.

If you do not request to change your name in the initial filing, but wish to do so while the divorce is pending, you can amend the initial filing to include your request.

Changing Your Name After Final Judgment of Divorce In NJIf your divorce is final, you may still change your last name. You will file a post judgment motion, and while a judge may request that you appear in court to answer questions making sure you are not changing your name to avoid a legal proceeding, the request is routinely granted.Does My Spouse Have A Say?Another common question about changing your name in a divorce is whether your spouse has any say in changing your name. The answer is no, your spouse cannot prevent you from changing your name or require you to change your name. The decision is yours to make alone. You also do not have to change your name when you divorce.Changing a Child’s NameChanging a child’s name is sometimes considered during a divorce, but the process for doing so is separate from the divorce and has different requirements than those described in this article. Please call the Law Office of Peter Van Aulen for a free consultation if you wish to change your child’s name.Choosing A New Last NameNew Jersey law allows either spouse to resume using any last name used by the spouse before the marriage or to use any other last name. So, a divorcing spouse may use a maiden name or select a new last name.When Does The Change Take Effect?You can use your new last name right away, but you will not be able to officially change your name, for example with the Social Security Administration (social security card) or Department of Motor Vehicles (driver’s license) until you have a court order to do so, which you will receive when your divorce is final. If you have questions about changing your name in a New Jersey divorce, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400 for a free consultation.SourceNew Jersey Statute 2A:34-21 - Surname 
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