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Family Law

What happens to my surname when I divorce?

Changing name after divorce

What happens to?
The most commonly asked questions from couples separating or divorcing

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

It is easy to assume that once you are divorced and receive your Decree Absolute, your name changes back to the name you used before you were married, however this is not the case.

For some people, sharing your ex spouse’s surname after a divorce may simply not be desirable. Of course, there is no legal requirement to change back to your maiden name, but it is personal preference for some people. You can be known by any name you wish, although not from a legal perspective. When applying for formal documents such as passport or driving license, simply wishing to be known by a different name will not suffice.

How do I change my surname after divorce?

To change your surname after a divorce, you may be able to provide record holders with a copy of your marriage certificate and Decree Absolute or your civil partnership certificate and final Order. It is important to note however, some organisations will not accept this and you will be required to do this via deed poll.

A deed poll is a legal document which proves you have changed your name.

How do I apply for a Deed Poll?

In order to apply for a deed poll, you need to make an application to the Royal Courts of Justice which carries an admin fee of around £45.. This means that your new name will be on public record and it will allow you to apply for new documents such as a passport and driving license in your new name.

What about my child’s name?

If you have children, you may also wish to change their surnames by deed poll, however this is not as straight forward as changing an adult’s name. To change your child’s name, everyone who has parental responsibility of that child needs to consent to a name change. If you think you are not likely to get consent of the other parent, you can apply to the Court. The Court will only give permission if it is decided it is in your child’s best interests to allow the name to be changed. The Court will consider the child’s relationship with their other parent, such as degree or commitment and how often they spend time with the child.

For further information on changing your name or your child’s by deed poll, please get in touch with our specialist and friendly Family Law team on 0191 2328451 or if you prefer, via email

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