Historically, a woman took her husband’s last name upon marriage. Over the past decade or so, some men have begun taking their wife’s last name, or the couple got combined names. The same is true of same-sex couples that have gotten legally married.
But, what happens if you want to change your last name after divorce? Fortunately, Colorado law does allow you to change your name. Read on for more information about the process and requirements of changing your last name after a divorce in Colorado
What is the Process for Changing My Last Name?
You can request a change in last name as part of the divorce proceeding. Make the request on your divorce petition. The judge will then include the change in the divorce decree.
If you don’t make the request as part of the divorce, then the process for changing your name is more complicated. You will need to complete and file a Petition for Change of Name and undergo a criminal background check. You might also need to publish your intention to change your name at least 3 times in at least 21 days in a newspaper, unless you qualify for an exception.
What Documents Do I Need to Update?
After the name change goes through, you should update the following:
- Social Security card
- Driver’s license
- Bank accounts
- Any employer’s records
You should get multiple copies of the decree granting your name change from the court clerk.
Can I Force My Spouse to Remove My Last Name?
No. You cannot decide what last name your spouse uses after divorce. That is for your ex to decide. However, you could include it in the divorce negotiations. For example, you might be willing to give up some marital property in exchange for your spouse changing her last name.
Can I Change My Children’s Last Name?
This will depend on the circumstances. If both parents agree to the change, then you should be able to include the request as part of the divorce. However, problems arise when one parent objects to the name change. In that situation, a judge will need to decide whether the name change is in the child’s best interests.
You can look at the list of “best interest of the child factors” found at CRS §14-10-124. Most of them won’t seem relevant to deciding what last name your children use. Typically, a judge will look at your reason. If the child’s father has been absent, then a judge might consider changing the last name. The same is true if the child’s father has been abusive.
If the judge grants a change, you need to update relevant records, including:
- School records
- Medical records
- Social Security information
- Any financial records in your child’s name
Speak to a Divorce Lawyer
Name changes can be vigorously contested in divorce proceedings, and you need an attorney who understands how a judge will analyze these cases. Contact Divorce Matters today. One of our lawyers will be happy to meet with you to discuss your options.