In North Carolina, if you have legally assumed the use of your spouse’s last name, you have the right to resume your maiden name after the dissolution of your legal marriage. There are two common methods to resume a maiden name, one far easier than the other.
At the time either spouse files for Absolute Divorce, you can ask the Court to grant a resumption of maiden name. This request can be made in a Complaint for Divorce if you initiate the lawsuit for entry of a divorce, or as a Counterclaim if your spouse does so. In Mecklenburg County, the Court charges a $10.00 filing fee, in addition to the other applicable costs, to resume a maiden name. After the applicable deadlines and any filings, either party can ask the Court to enter a Judgment of Divorce, which includes an Order dissolving the legal bonds of marriage but also a resumption of maiden name. Once the Judgment of Divorce is entered by the Court, your name has officially been changed.
Although the Divorce process allows the resumption of a maiden name, it does not allow a carte blanche name change. The North Carolina General Statutes allow a resumption of maiden name, the surname of a prior deceased husband, or the surname of a prior living husband if she has children who have that husband’s surname.
If you choose not to change your name during the Divorce process, you may still do so after the entry of a Judgment of Divorce under what is referred to as an Adult Name Change. To resume a maiden name as an Adult Name Change is a much more complicated and time consuming process, and involves State and FBI criminal background checks, affidavits of character by third parties, and a sworn statement as to the reason for the name change, among other required documents. The filing fees are also 12 times the cost, at $120, not including the costs of the background checks. Under North Carolina Law, the request for name change may be denied if “good cause” is not shown for the change. Unlike the resumption of maiden name, an Adult Name Change can request any variation of name change.
If you considering a resumption of your maiden name, it can save a substantial amount of time and money to include that request in your Divorce process. If you have questions about Divorce or resuming a maiden name, please call us today at: (704) 810-1400.