Continuing with this series on changing your name after divorce, like me, going back to her maiden name was a no brainer for Kirstie, Her reasons though were quite different than mine.
I didn’t want to have his last name anymore. I don’t want to have anything to do with him. I have so many bad feelings and he’s been nothing but a pain in the butt our whole marriage. I gave it every try but by the time I was done, I was done. I wanted to be done with him completely.
I was always the financially responsible one but he was the “stockbroker.” He always acted like he knew what he was doing and he didn’t. I came into the marriage with the corporate job, the benefits, the savings, with a great 401(k) and I left with nothing. I couldn’t believe the magnitude of everything he kept from me. I’ve had to drain what I had left of my 401(k) just to survive and now I’m almost at the end of that, I’ve been borrowing money from my family.
I took on the marital debt because I knew he wouldn’t pay it and my name was associated with it. He had one account he was supposed to pay and he didn’t. So they took my credit cards away. In just one month. So I took that debt on as well. It’s amazing as accounts go – if the other party is not being responsible even for his portion because we were married that was still reflecting poorly on me. It’s been a nightmare.
My children were confused as to why I would change my name but they understood when I said, ‘It’s your Dad’s last name, it wasn’t my last name. I was married to your Dad for only a quarter of my life. I’m not with your Dad anymore and so I want my family name back.’
My brother and sister have both my parents last names and so ideally I would like my children to have both my last name and their father’s. My daughter thought that would be great. She started writing it on journals, writing it on papers at school. Then my ex saw it and said, ‘Stop encouraging the kids to write your last name. It’s not legally their name.’ I told him I wanted to legally change their names and he said ‘absolutely not.’ What makes me mad is that the courts won’t allow you to change your children’s names, even to add in your last name, unless you have approval from the other spouse.
I wish I’d never changed my name when I got married. My Dad was actually very upset. He said, ‘You’re 28, you’re giving up part of who you are.’ I was really surprised he was upset. Now, after all the hassle I’ve gone through, if I got married again, I wouldn’t change my name again.
My divorce attorney, Judy LaBuda, said she would try not to recommend to her clients whether to change names or not but there are practical issues to consider in some situations such as Kirstie’s. “If the debt was incurred in the husband’s name during the marriage, it would be a good idea to change your name so you don’t stay associated with the debt and creditors don’t associate you as readily with the debt. It doesn’t mean that creditors wouldn’t have a legal remedy if you were assigned that debt in a dissolution. But I think it would be better not to have the same last name as the person who was incurring debt that they weren’t paying and you were their spouse at the time they were incurring it.”
Changing your last name might also give you some comfort that your ex will no longer have access to your accounts but it’s no guarantee. You need to contact each financial institution, notify them that there has been a divorce, that your ex no longer has access to the account and change any passwords, security questions and log-in IDs. Even then, well-meaning customer service reps can still fall for sob stories so monitor your accounts carefully.
More posts coming about name changes after divorce including Kim who’s had multiple name changes, and Louise who didn’t change her name on divorce but decided to two years later and who is also going through the legal process of changing her daughter’s name.
Photo Credit: Andres Rueda at Flickr