If you took your spouse’s last name and are now getting a divorce, you might be considering going back to your maiden or previous name. When you change your name, it can be an empowering and symbolic act that marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life.
However, there is a common misconception that a final order of divorce automatically allows you to legally use a previous name. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, you must file a separate petition or motion, either with your divorce case or after the final order is issued, to resume the use of your maiden or previous name for legal purposes.
If you’re wondering how to change your name after a divorce in Virginia, here are the legal steps you’ll have to take:
1. Draft and notarize a Petition or Motion along with a Final Order relating to your name change.
You will need to draft and submit these two legal forms to ask the Circuit Court where your divorce is pending or was granted seeking a divorce-related name change, and pay a filing fee to the Court:
- Petition/Motion for Restoration of Maiden Name. This form presents all the relevant facts of your case, including your current married name, any previous legal names you have used (i.e. your maiden name or a name from a previous marriage), and the name you wish to resume using after your divorce. Once completed, you must sign your Petition/Motion in the presence of a notary public.
- Final Order for Name Change. This form repeats the information from your Petition/ Motion and leaves a blank space for a Circuit Court judge to sign and date. It’s important to note that your spouse (or their attorney, if applicable), must sign this Order before it is filed with the Court.
Both of these forms must have the same caption and case number as your existing divorce case.
2. Fill out Form CC-1416.
Also known as the Virginia Civil Cover Sheet, Form CC-1416 is a standard legal form that is required to be filed with any Virginia Circuit Court civil action. On this form, you’ll list the name of the Circuit Court where you’re filing your case, your name and contact information, and the type of case you are filing. This form can be downloaded as a PDF from the Virginia Judicial System website.
3. File your forms with your local Circuit Court.
You may file all three forms at any point during the divorce process, or after your Final Order of Divorce has been issued. Generally, you will file your forms in-person with the Circuit Court in the same county where you filed for divorce. Bring a check or credit card and a valid driver’s license with you so you can pay the applicable filing fee. The Virginia Circuit Court directory, including hours and addresses, can be found here.
4. Serve copies of your forms to your spouse or their attorney.
As with all divorce-related forms, a copy of your Petition/Motion and Final Order must be served to your spouse (or their attorney, if represented) by fax and/or first-class mail the same day you file them with the Court.
5. Wait for the Court to return your signed Final Order.
If all your forms have been correctly completed and filed, a Circuit Court judge will sign your Name Change Order, granting you the right to resume the use of your maiden or previous name. You cannot begin using your former name again for any legal purpose until you receive this signed Order from the Court.
6. Order certified copies of your Final Order to present when you change your name.
To change your legal name with your employer, financial institutions, mortgage company, and government agencies (including the Department of Motor Vehicles and Social Security Administration), you will need to present an original, certified copy of the court order granting your name change. If you have a passport, you will also need to mail a certified copy to a passport processing center to update your name there.
Be sure to order several copies from the Court so you will have spares – some agencies may need to temporarily keep your document while they process the name change, and with an extra copy, you can keep the process moving with other agencies.
Changing your name after a divorce is a very personal decision, and if you wish to make the process as smooth as possible, it’s important to follow the correct legal procedure. With My Legal Case Coach’s easy-to-use case form packet, you’ll have all the necessary court forms to resume the use of your maiden name, plus the legal guidance to ensure you’ve successfully completed all the steps in the process.
Not sure which case form packet you need? Take our 30-second quiz and answer a few questions, or schedule a 15-minute consultation call to help you find the right one. Each packet purchase comes with one (1) free hour of 1:1 legal coaching with a licensed Virginia attorney.