I should caveat this article by any reference to divorce or marriage is applicable to the dissolution of a civil partnership.
It is a question that I am asked a lot as a Family Solicitor when advising a separating spouse whether they or their spouse can retain their married name when the divorce is finalised.
Traditionally, when couples get married, the female partner would change their surname to the male spouse’s surname. In 2016, a UK survey found 90% of women take their husband’s surname in replacement of their maiden (previous) name when they get married. However, over the years this has changed, with some spouses opting to retain their previous name, either for work purposes and using their married surname in their private life, some couples opting to double barrel their surnames, or both changing their names to include the other spouse’s previous name as a middle name (as is the case of Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz) or chose a different surname altogether.
There are many reasons why, when couples separate and/or divorce, that they would either wish to retain or change their surname. It is personal preference and there are no laws to stipulate what should happen, just as the other spouse cannot insist that the other reverts to their previous name. On divorce, it is a personal decision whether you choose to retain your married name or not. Some choose to retain it, especially where the couple have had children or if they have been married a long time as a surname forms part of an individual’s identity. Where the couple have children, it can be easier if both parents have the same surname, especially for travel reasons.
If a spouse does wish to revert back to their previous name following a divorce, they will; need their marriage certificate (or a certified copy), their birth certificate, confirm that they are using their previous surname for all purposes and a document confirming this such as a pay slip or letter from their local council, and their Final Order (previously known as Decree Absolute). They do not need to change their surname via Deed Poll.
However, if you wish to revert to your previous name prior to the Final Order being made, you will need to change your name via Deed Poll. Of course, if you wish to change your surname to a name that was not your previous name prior to your marriage, you will need a Deed Poll to implement this.
However, if a child, or their parent wishes to change the child’s name on their behalf, either first, middle or surname, you will need the consent of everyone who shares Parental Responsibility or a Court Order. A child who is over 16 years of age can choose to change their name via Deed Poll if they have the correct level of maturity and understanding on the effects of this.
If you need any advice on changing your name or in connection with a separation or divorce, then get in touch with our family department for specialist legal advice as soon as possible with our Family Law team on 01255 320 555 or email: email@example.com