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Two Options When an Ex Wants to Keep Your Last Name

A myriad of issues can arise during a divorce. For those who have a name that is tied to their professional reputation, one potential issue is whether or not your ex will change her last name after the divorce is finalized. The issue is best addressed from two different perspectives:

  • Before the divorce settlement is finalized
  • After the divorce settlement is finalized

The date of the settlement agreement is plays a crucial role in the options that are available to address this divorce issue.


Tips for those who are going through divorce and wish to encourage an ex to change her last name: Ideally, the issue is addressed before the divorce is finalized because leverage is present while still negotiating the terms of the divorce agreement. If a future ex has no intention of keeping your last name, including the change within the settlement is not likely to pose an issue. Having it in writing, however, does help to ensure that there is not a change of heart once the divorce is finalized.

If your future ex intends to keep your last name, you can begin negotiations. A recent piece in the National Post discusses this conundrum, noting that “a financial concession or two” can provide the leverage needed to ensure that a name change is part of the final decree.

Pointers for those who wish to encourage a name change after the divorce is finalized: Unfortunately, there are situations where a spouse believes a future ex will change her name and is later disappointed when the name is not changed. Although more difficult to navigate without a provision within the divorce settlement agreement addressing the issue, it is not impossible.

In some instances, a modification to the divorce settlement may be an option. This can result in legal documentation supporting the required name change.

Regardless, get a lawyer: Whether hoping to put a name change requirement within the initial settlement agreement or looking to get a modification after the fact, it is wise to seek legal counsel. An experienced attorney can better ensure the divorce agreement meets your needs, discussing possible issues like a contentious name change. Your attorney can reduce the risk of future issues, better ensuring a smooth transition into your post-divorce future.

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