Changing Your Name During Divorce

You have the right — but not the obligation — to change your name during divorce proceedings. Every individual needs to make this very personal choice for his or herself.

You might choose to readopt your maiden name — or even to create a new last name — to make a fresh start after the end of your marriage. Alternatively, you might decide to keep your married name because you have used it professionally or because you believe it is best for your children if you keep the same name.

Whatever your reasons, you can include the name change in your final divorce judgment. The court does not charge an additional fee or require your appearance at another hearing to complete the process at that time. If you decide to change your name after your divorce is finalized, you must petition the court, appear at a hearing and pay a fee.

To be eligible for a name change, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have resided in Minnesota for at least six months prior to finalization of your divorce
  • File your divorce petition in the county where you currently live
  • Affirm that you have no fraudulent intent for changing your name — for example to avoid paying a debt, being sued or being arrested or charged with a crime

A court order does not automatically change your name at government agencies, businesses or your place of employment. After your divorce, you need to take steps to notify relevant agencies so you can legally change your name on such important documents as:

  • Social Security card
  • Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Voter registration
  • Permanent resident card (green card)
  • Employment records
  • School transcripts
  • Insurance policies
  • Financial records
  • Minnesota and federal tax returns
  • Utilities bills
  • Government programs (e.g., Veterans’ benefits)

Your name is your identity. The decision you make will have consequences on your life. If you want to change your name, an experienced MN family law attorney can explain the process and guide you through post-divorce matters to complete the name change process.

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