November 4th, 2022
If you took your spouse’s name when you got married, you might want to go back to the name you had before marriage. Women most commonly take their husbands’ names when they marry, but many types of name changes are possible. Both spouses may change their names after getting married, such as by hyphenating the two names. The easiest way to get back to your former/maiden name is do it as part of your divorce. The following is a guide to name changes in divorce cases.
How to Change Your Name in Minnesota
Any adult in Minnesota, meaning anyone who is at least eighteen years old, can petition a court for a change of name. You must meet a six-month residency requirement, which is not a problem if you are also seeking a divorce. You can ask for a name change as part of the divorce process, or you can file a separate petition for a name change after the divorce is complete. In either situation, you will need a court order so that you can get a new driver’s license and other official documents.
Name Change as Part of the Divorce Case
Seeking a name change as part of your divorce proceeding is often the easiest and most straightforward method. A court is likely to approve a request to change your name to your pre-marriage name — for women, this is often known as your “maiden name.” If you have been married before, you may want to revert to the name from your previous marriage. You might want to take on another family name.
To change your name as part of your divorce case, you must request it before the court grants the divorce and enters a final decree. For example, your divorce petition could include a request for a name change listing exactly what your new name will be. Couples can agree to change the name of a child during a divorce, as well.
Minnesota law requires a court to grant a name change as part of a divorce, except in the following situations:
- The court finds “an intent to defraud or mislead” with the name change.
- You have a felony conviction under Minnesota law, federal law, or another state’s law. A felony conviction does prevent you from changing your name. It just requires you to go through a separate legal proceeding, as discussed further below.
Once the court signs the final decree, it must also issue a “certification of dissolution” that contains basic information about the divorce. This includes any name changes that the court granted. The name change is in effect as of the date of court entry.
One significant advantage of changing your name as part of the divorce is that it saves you money and time. The only additional cost is ordering multiple certified copies of the certificate of dissolution, rather than one. A separate name change proceeding after divorce requires you to pay a filing fee and attend another court hearing.
Name Change After the Divorce
Minnesota law allows any adult who meets the residency requirements described above to file a petition for a change of name in district court to change their name. The petition must include:
- Your current name
- The names and ages of your minor children and spouse, if any
- Descriptions of any land in Minnesota that you own, or in which you claim an interest
You may also ask the court to change your minor children’s names, but is best done if both parents agree.
The base fee for a petition to change your name is $285 in Minnesota district courts. Each county may charge additional fees, so you should expect a filing fee of at least $300.
You must appear in court with two witnesses who can testify that you are who you say you are. The statute says that the court shall grant the name change unless it finds one or more of the following:
- The name change is intended to “defraud or mislead.”
- You have a felony conviction and must meet additional requirements under state law.
The court can deny a name change for a minor child if it finds that changing the child’s name would not be in their best interest.
Name Change After a Felony Conviction
In order to get a name change after a felony conviction, you must provide notice to the “prosecuting authority” that obtained the conviction. For example, if your conviction was in St. Paul, you would need to serve a copy of the name change petition on the Ramsey County Attorney.
The prosecutor has thirty days to object to the name change. If they object, you can request a hearing before the court. You will have the burden of proving the following:
- You do not intend to defraud or mislead with the name change.
- You are requesting the name change in good faith
- The name change “will not cause injury to a person” or “compromise public safety.”
Divorce is often a profoundly painful process, even when things are amicable. It can be easy to overlook details like changing your name. Family attorney Louise Livesay is committed to helping people dealing with divorce and other family law issues. She has guided families in the Twin Cities area through complex family law disputes for over two decades. If you have questions about Collaborative law, divorce mediation, or a related matter, please contact us online or at (651) 964-3887.
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