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Texas Name Change After a Divorce: How to Do It

Sophia Merton
February 17, 2023

How do you do a Texas name change after a divorce? Can you change your name as a part of the proceedings, or is it a separate process altogether?

The simplest way to change your name as a part of the divorce is to request it on your petition, waiver, or answer. If you finalize your divorce before changing your name, the process is a bit more complex.

How to Change Your Name After a Divorce in Texas

The vast majority of women take their spouse’s last name when they get married– only about 20% or 30% of women in the U.S. retain their maiden name once they wed their spouse. A much smaller percentage of men in the United States– about 3%– take their wife’s last name when they get married.

woman holding two halves of paper heart after changing name in texas after divorce
Getting a name change as a part of a divorce is very common and is simplest to do during the divorce proceeding.

Some couples choose to combine their names with a hyphen, so both of their surnames are represented, while others choose an entirely new last name to share as a part of their marriage.

The frequency of spouses taking each other's last names or hyphenating their names vary significantly by state. A study from 2006 found that 6.24% of brides kept their last name in Texas, while 4.5% adopted a hyphenated name. In contrast, 22.67% of brides in New York kept their maiden name during the same year, and 5.25% adopted a hyphenated last name.

This means that many individuals are faced with the question of how to change their name after a divorce.

Changing Your Name During the Divorce Proceedings

The simplest option is to change your name as a part of the divorce proceedings. You must request or agree to the name change during the process– your name does not automatically revert back to the name you had before you were married. This is something that can be requested or agreed to as a part of the divorce petition, waiver, or answer.

However, going this route is only useful if you want to restore the name you had going into the marriage. You will not be able to request a name change to a brand-new last name.

When you receive your divorce decree, you will see that your restored name is included. In order to change your name on all of your official identification documents, you will use a copy of your divorce decree.

If you are dissolving a common law marriage and have legally changed your name as a part of the partnership, all of the same information about changing your name in a divorce applies.

Amending Your Divorce Petition During the Divorce

If you did not request a name change as a part of the petition, waiver, or answer but are still going through the process of divorce, you can amend the divorce petition so long as your trial date is more than thirty days away.

man filling out divorce paperwork including name change in texas
If you didn't include a request for a name change when you filed your original paperwork, you could ask to amend the petition.

If you are able to amend the divorce petition to request that you change your name back to your maiden name, it will be reflected on your final divorce petition. You can then use this document to change your name on all official identification documents.

Changing Your Name After a Divorce Is Final

If your divorce has already been finalized and you did not change your name as a part of the proceedings, you will have to take additional steps. This is also the case if you want to change your name to something other than your maiden name, as you can only request that you revert back to your maiden name during the divorce process.

woman looking over divorce decree with name change noted in texas
If your divorce is already final, you'll have to go through the normal process for getting your name changed in Texas.

The following are the requirements for a name change in Texas:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must file your petition in the county you reside in
  • Your newly chosen name must not be vulgar
  • You must not be filing with the intent to avoid creditors or defraud anyone
  • You haven’t committed a felony, or if you have committed a felony, it’s been two years since completion of probation or release from prison, or you’ve been pardoned
  • You’ve provided proof of Class A and B misdemeanors or felonies to the court, if applicable
  • You’re changing your name for a lawful reason
  • You’re not a sex offender, or if you are a sex offender, local authorities have been notified by you that you intend to change your name

As a part of the process, you will also have to pay a filing fee and turn in your petition with a fingerprint card attached. Let’s look at all of the steps you will need to go through:

  1. Get a copy of the form entitled Prepare a Petition to Change Name of an Adult and prepare it.
  2. Find a location where you can get a fingerprint card through the Texas Department of Public Safety.
  3. Attach the fingerprint card to the petition and file it in the county that you live in. You will also need to pay the filing fees, which are usually about $200 but can vary depending on where you are filing. You might be able to have your court costs waived if you can’t afford them– to request that your fees are waived, you’ll need to file a Statement of Inability to Afford Court Costs.
  4. Provide testimony in front of a judge about the reason that you want to change your name.
  5. If your request to change your name is granted, you will then need to get a Change of Name certificate or a certified copy of the court’s order from the clerk’s office.
  6. Inform the appropriate agencies of your new name, as they aren’t automatically notified. This includes agencies like the Social Security Administration, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Court orders are required to change your last name, but making minor changes to your first or middle name typically only requires that you fill out an application to amend your birth certificate. This process is handled by the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Can I Change My Child’s Last Name As a Part of Divorce in Texas?

You cannot request that your child’s last name be changed as a part of divorce proceedings. Changing the last name of a child is considered a separate lawsuit unless it is part of a paternity or adoption proceeding.

A parent, legal guardian, or managing conservator can file a child name change case in Texas. You will need to file the case at the district clerk’s office in the child’s county of residence. It is required that the other parent is informed about your desire to change your child’s name unless their parental rights have been terminated.

You and the other parent can file the request together if they agree to the name change. If they disagree, the other parent will need to be served with legal notice by a sheriff, constable, or private process server.

Essential Steps After Changing Your Name After Divorce

After you’ve changed your name, there are a few more steps you’ll need to take to make sure that your name is updated in all of the most important places.

Change Your Name on Your Social Security Card

To change the name on your Social Security card, you will need to fill out an SS-5 form through the Social Security Administration. The documents required to get a new card depend on your circumstances, but you will need information that proves your identity, supports the name change that you’re requesting and explains the grounds for the difference.

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary documents and have filled out the form, you will need to go to a Social Security office in order to have them approve the request. While you wait for your new social security card to arrive, you can use the certificate they give you in the meantime.

Get a New Driver’s License

Though no one likes to go to the DMV, you’ll also need to head to your local driver's license office to update the name on your license.

Change the Name on Your Bank Accounts

debit card with name change after texas divorce
It's best to change your name on all of your financial accounts right away, so it doesn't cause any confusion or difficulty down the road.

You’ll also want to update your name on any checking or savings accounts you have as soon as you can after your name change. You typically only need a certified copy of your Final Decree of Divorce to show that your name has changed if you did so as a part of the divorce process.

Are you getting divorced in the Lone Star State? If so, make sure you check out our Texas Family Law blog for more information about your rights in a divorce.

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is a researcher and writer that aims to help make the complexities of the legal system understandable to the layperson. Believing that people can be empowered by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, Sophia aims to offer accurate and well-researched information in straightforward and easy-to-digest legal articles.

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