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During a divorce proceeding, a party can include in the Judgment an order restoring their former name upon dissolution of the marriage. It’s a simple matter of checking a box on the FL-180 Judgment form, and including the former name that the party wishes to restore. But what happens if you forget to include that in your Judgment, or you decide after the divorce is finalized that you want to change your name back? Don’t worry, the process is relatively simple, or may not be necessary at all.

Common Law Right to Adopt Name

First off, California has a common law rule “that a person may, without any formal action, adopt any name he or she chooses so long as the name is not adopted to defraud or intentionally confuse.” (see Weathers v. Superior Court (1976) 54 CA3rd 286) What that means is that you don’t need a court order to start using your maiden name again, or even a different name for that matter. As long as you aren’t changing your name to deceive or confuse people, you can legally adopt a new name and go by that name.

Simple, right? The problem arises though in that not everyone will recognize a common law name change, and require some documentation. For example, if you need to change your name on your social security information, they will usually require a court order in the case of a divorce showing your name was restored, or a copy of your marriage certificate showing that your name has changed by marriage. Other government agencies may have similar requirements, and banks or similar organizations may require some documentation.

Restoring Your Name After the Divorce Judgment was Granted

To change your name through the Court in California generally requires filing a petition for the name change and paying regular court fees. Fortunately, if you already have a divorce (or annulment) case that Judgment was entered on, there is a simplified process to go back and have your name changed. An ex-parte application can be made using the California family law form FL-395, available here. This one page form and order should be taken to the courthouse where your divorce case was assigned, and the request will be granted. You will be required to pay the ex-parte filing fee, but this process is far simpler than the normal name change application process. A certified copy of this order restoring your name can be taken to whatever agency or organization that needs proof that your name was changed.

For example, if your divorce was granted in the Central District of the Los Angeles Superior Court, then you would take your filled out form and copies to that courthouse in Los Angeles, and submit it at the Family Law Clerk’s office on the fourth floor and pay the filing fee. You may want to also submit an addressed and stamped envelope if they cannot process it that day, and they will mail you your copy of the name change. That’s it, once you have your copy, your name is “officially” restored.  For further information contact a Burbank Divorce Lawyer.

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