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Divorce and separation

Changing your name after marriage or divorce

By September 10, 2018October 26th, 2021No Comments

What is the legal situation around changing your name after marriage or divorce?

Adults can assume any surname they wish under the law (with certain exceptions). As a woman, when you get married you can either retain your maiden name, take on your husband’s surname, hyphenate your last names or even make up a new name that is a combination of both parties’ names. The new name can start to be used whenever you like, and it’s not a legal requirement to change your name on any documentation—this is known as “name by association”.

Some women choose to only use their married name in social circles, and keep their maiden name on official identification documents or for career purposes, or so it remains searchable on social media networks and search engines. The most important things is to retain consistency in where you use each name, so that it does not become an inconvenience (for example, when government agencies are reluctant to accept inconsistent documentation).

Taking your husband’s name at marriage

If you are taking your husband’s name it’s a very simple process.  A Marriage Certificate issued by your state or territory’s Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages is sufficient evidence that you have married and you do not need to go through any application process to change your name.   This will not change your name on your birth certificate/birth record, but it will allow you to legally change your name on all of your identification documents.  You can start officially changing your name as soon as you are married and have your Marriage Certificate.

Changing your name after divorce

There is no legal need for women to go back to using their maiden name and your husband can’t stop you continuing to use his surname. Often, mothers wish to retain the same name as their kids and therefore keep their husband’s surname. Sometimes though, mothers wish to change their children’s surname and this is a separate issue, requiring you to make an application through the family courts. (Do you wish to change your child’s surname?)

The process of changing your own surname after divorce depends on whether you formally registered your change of name with the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages. If this is the case for you, you’ll need to file an application to change your surname back to your maiden name.

If you did not formally register your change of name with the Department, you simply need to take a copy of your Marriage Certificate and Birth Certificate to the relevant institutions as proof of the link between your maiden name and married name, so you can revert back to your maiden name without making an application. Sometimes, you’ll also need to show your Divorce Order at the same time.

Authorities and institutions where you’ll need to notify of your change of name include, for example: on your passport, at your banks and insurance companies, utility companies, employers, superannuation companies, transport authorities, the Australian Electoral Commission and Medicare, among others.

You can buy kits online that make the whole process of changing your name very easy, for example, here and here.

Do you need assistance with a family law matter? Please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Legal Services on (02) 6223 2400.

Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Legal Services.


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