How to Change your Name in a Georgia Divorce
In your divorce you have the ability to opt and change your last name back to a former or maiden name. In Georgia you may request the judge to restore a former name or birth name as a part of your divorce proceeding. See O.C.G.A. Section 9-5-19. “In all divorce actions, a party may pray in his pleadings for the restoration of a maiden or prior name. If a divorce is granted, the judgment or decree shall specify and restore to the party the name so prayed for in the pleadings.”
If the court rules that a requested name change is acceptable then the name change will be granted and included within the final divorce decree. Once the final divorce decree is signed and certified then it will act as the legal document proving the name change. Once you obtain this legal documentation you may use this document to prove your identification and alter your name on personal records. However, the court general limits these name change request to actual former names and not new or variations of former names. For example, changing your first name from “Vernise” to “Bernice” would not be generally approved if Bernice was not your former name.
I’m Already Divorced in Georgia, Can I Still Change My Name Back?
In the case that your Georgia divorce decree does not include the language to restore your previous name then you may ask the court to modify the order to include the name change. In almost all situations it is possible to make this modification even after the divorce has already been finalized. This may be dependent upon your reasons for the name change. However, the vast majority of name change requests for adults, especially to a former name are approved and granted by Georgia courts. If needed, your Georgia attorney can file a Petition for Name Change of an Adult. See O.C.G.A. Section 19-12-1.
Even in the event that you aren’t able to file the application post-divorce there are other options such as a legal name change that will make it relatively easy to change your name back to its former state. All of the documentation that is generally necessary to obtain this name change is a legal document representing the former name; such as, a birth certificate or passport. In summary, in Georgia, the legal process of changing a name, if not done as a part of the divorce process (or afterwards), is to file a petition with the court to change your name, satisfy the required public notice / publication requirements and to attend what is usually a brief court hearing to receive a court order officially changing your name.
Is It Legally Difficult to Change Your Name Back in Georgia?
It is not very difficult for an adult to change their name in Georgia. Changing back to a former name is usually much easier than it is to change to a completely new name. This is primarily due to the fact that the state can legally trace back your identity to the former name via state records. Even changing part or all of your name to a totally new name is usually not difficult in Georgia so long as the correct documents are filed with the court and the requested name change is published in a timely manner in the form required by the court.
Many people requesting a name change back to a former name ultimately decide to also change a middle name or some other aspect of their name. This is perfectly fine, but the decision should be made before the documents are filed with the court. Some people have a hard time deciding what minor changes they may want to make to their name. So it is best to give any new changes a lot of thought before a name change petition is filed with the court.
When is a Name Change Difficult?
A change to a new name may not be requested if you are attempting to elude capture, are trying to commit fraud, or are trying to conceal prior arrest or conviction history. If your case is suspicious, the court may go through lengthy investigation to ensure that the name change request is not for the purpose of engaging in such activities. Lengthy investigations may also be required if you are a recent immigrant to the United States or if you are unable to provide documentation that can adequately verify your reason for the name change is for honest purposes.
However, it has been our experience that the vast majority of requested name changes we work on go through the court process with no delay and are granted in a timely manner. This may be because an attorney drafted the paperwork and that provides the court an assurance that the case was filed in good faith. Also, most people that do not use an attorney to file a name change make one or more significant errors in the documents filed with the court that will significantly delay or totally derail their request for a name change. Therefore, it is advised that anyone seeking a name change at least consult with an attorney experienced with the process in Georgia.
If you have questions or would like to inquire about changing your name back to its former state during or following a divorce then you may contact our attorneys at Coleman Legal Group LLC. Our attorneys are experienced in divorce and family law and have experience in legal name changes during and following divorce proceedings. Please contact us today by calling 770-609-1247 to schedule your legal consultation. Contact >>