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Name Changes

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 NJ

If 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 Name

Changing 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 initial consultation if you wish to change your child’s name.

Choosing a New Last Name

New 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 consultation.


New Jersey Statute 2A:34-21 - Surname

Client Reviews
Peter has integrity, and values his relationships with his clients beyond his financial relationship with them. For me to say this about any lawyer is really saying something. He is compassionate, straightforward and knowledgeable. I would easily recommend him to anybody. Lewie W.
Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
Peter is an exceptionally great attorney. He handled my child custody case and was able to ease any of my concerns with honest answers. He always took the time to explain the pros/cons and was always available to answer any questions that I had… I would highly recommend this attorney to anyone who is looking for one. Jessica Cruz
Peter Van Aulen is a very compassionate, honest and straightforward person. He was there for me at my lowest point with a genuine concern not only for my situation, but for me and my child's well being above all… He is fair and he is strong and when push comes to shove he is there for you. Cathy Dodge
Our cousin used Peter's law office to help with a sticky custody situation. He was extremely responsive, very nice and most importantly did an awesome job with the court! He is awesome. Lawrence Polsky

*Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances