If you are planning to change your name as part of your divorce process, there are a few steps you need to take during and after divorce to accomplish that task. Keep in mind that name changes are not automatic when you file for divorce. A change of name post-divorce will require you to take the same steps that you took the first time you changed your name. Here are the steps that you need to follow in California.
Step 1: Obtain a Certified Copy of your Judgement
The first step to changing your name is to request a name change on the Judgement for Dissolution or Legal Separation before filing your Judgment Packet. If you are working with Laura McGee, she will ensure that this form is filed on your behalf as part of the uncontested divorce process. If you are not working with Laura, you can learn how to complete this step in the video above.
Once you have the Judgment back from the court, Laura will have it Certified as a true copy of your Judgment. You will need a Certified copy to start your name change process.
Step 2: Social Security Office
Begin your name change with a trip to the Social Security office. They will ask for a “Certified Copy” of your Judgment for Dissolution, which they sometimes refer to as a “Decree.” The clerk’s stamp and court seal are located on the last page (sometimes on the back of the last page of your MSA). The first two pages (Form FL-180) say "Judgment," but note that at the bottom of page 2 of form FL-180, it says that the attached Marital Settlement Agreement is incorporated into the terms of your Judgment, which means the entire document is your Judgment.
Step 3: DMV and Passport
Once you have your new social security card in hand, schedule a trip to the DMV and passport office to change your driver’s license/ID and passport. Keep in mind that you can also update your address while you are there if that has changed as well.
Step 4: Other Important Records and Documents
Once your name has been changed on your official documents, there are several places where you will want to update your name. The process may be different for each of these places. Here is a checklist to help get you started and ensure you do not forget anything:
Post office and/or mailing address
Car title and/or leaseholder agreement
Insurance policies (auto, health, life)
Bank and/or brokerage accounts
Health, dental, and vision plans
Email and online accounts
Memberships and subscriptions
The above list can seem daunting, but many changes can occur simultaneously. Changing your name can provide peace of mind and emotional healing after divorce; all tasks are well worth the effort. (You can download a printable version of this checklist here).