As part of their divorce action, the Court will allow a spouse or partner in a civil union couple to resume any name used prior to the marriage or civil union. In fact, New Jersey Courts have held that a divorced woman is entitled to resume her maiden name at any time following the entry of the judgment of divorce. Typically, the Court would hear both matters (the divorce and name change) on the same day, taking testimony on the reasons for the divorce and the name change as part of the same hearing. The Court will want to know that the request to resume a maiden name is not being done with the intent to avoid creditors or obstruct criminal prosecution. Depending on the county in which the divorce is granted, you will either receive a separate order permitting you to resume your maiden name or it will be included in the judgment of divorce.
Clearly, the decision to resume a name used prior to marriage or civil union is a personal decision. Some litigants hesitate to do so as part of the divorce action because they have established themselves professionally under their married name. Others prefer to match the last names of their children. It is the prerogative of the litigant to make this decision. Recognizing the fact that this is a personal decision, the Court will allow a litigant to change their minds, so to speak, and ask for the name change at any point in time before the divorce is finalized. Should a litigant decide to resume their maiden name after the divorce has been granted, a motion can be filed after the divorce asking the Court’s permission to resume any name used prior to marriage or civil union.
An attorney can guide you through the process and assist you in filing the appropriate documents.
Olevich v. Olevich, 258 N.J. Super. 344 (Ch. Div. 1992)
N.J.S.A. 2A:52-1 (Stat. Ann. 2015).