Should You Change Your Last Name After Divorce?

Should you change your last name after divorce? I’m in the midst of this decision and choosing which last name to use is not as easy as I thought it would be.

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When I got married, I took my husband’s name just like so many women do. It was important to him. It wasn’t really an issue for me either way.

I assumed that once my divorce was final, it would be easy to go right back to my maiden name. But now I’m not so sure how “easy” that will be. It’s more complicated. I have a child. If I go back to my maiden name, we will have different last names. I’m not really concerned about what others think, I’m just worried about what she thinks.

Will she feel distant from me? Will she feel abandoned? Will she even care?

I always imagined I’d go back to my maiden name, my family name that I feel connected to through generations of family. It just feels like me. My real deep down true self. But to make my child feel connected, do I have to keep this last name that isn’t really even mine? Do I walk around this planet with a last name that isn’t an accurate label of me just so I don’t upset my child?

And even if she cares about my name now, will she really care in a month? In a year? Not to mention that no one else I share this last name with will speak to me. That certainly makes me want to shed it. (They probably can’t wait for me to change my last name either!)

Going back to my maiden name just feels really right. In so much of my divorce, I’ve struggled to rediscover me. The me that I let slip away. Part of restoring me is to restore my name.

My daughter is a teen and vacillates between not caring about my last name, asking me to keep her name, or suggesting I go back to my maiden name. (Or making a hybrid last name that combines them all. A sort of last name sampler platter. A fun game we’ve played together, sort of like last name mashup.)

I’m still not sure exactly what I’ll do about my last name yet. I keep thinking about what last name I’d like to sign or type everyday as I sit down to write. What last name do I want to see on my bank debit card? What last name do I want to say when I introduce myself to new people?

At the pace of my divorce (6 years and still counting!) I probably have a while left to think about my new/old last name.

The only thing I’ve realized going through a divorce is that there are no rules. No right or wrong answers. Not in life, in marriage. Not in deciding on a last name either. There isn’t a crystal clear answer waiting for you. No perfect decision. No prize for the most correct answers. In the end, you just have to do what you think is best for your life moving forward. The best decision for your last name? The one that makes you glad you chose it, every time you have to sign your name.

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