Returning to your former last name following a divorce in New York

Upon divorcing, if you changed your last name during the marriage, you may wish to go back to using your previous name. Although there is no law in New York that prohibits returning to your prior surname in social settings, for legal purposes, (driver’s license, passport, financial transactions, etc.) there are a few steps that need to be taken. 

Your Judgment of Divorce Must Authorize the Name Change

Your Judgment of Divorce typically will include a clause specifically authorizing you to use your former name. Regardless, if you are in the process of a divorce, you should make sure your attorney is aware of your prior surname and your desire to use it in the future. If you are already divorced, you should read through the Judgment to see if this authorization was included. If it was not, you should contact your attorney to discuss the steps and costs involved in having the judgment modified.   

Documents Needed to Effectuate the Change

  • A certified copy of your divorce decree 
  • Official identification, such as a license or passport 
  • Proof of age, such as a birth certificate 

 You will need to provide these documents in order to legally change the name on your IDs. You will also need to notify any other relevant agencies, financial institutions, employers, and healthcare providers, as well as your friends and family.