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A woman's rights upon divorce
Many women choose to revert to their maiden name on divorce – and there are two ways you can do this.
You can either apply for a Deed Poll to change your name back to your maiden name.
Or you can use your decree absolute and marriage certificate to change your name.
Which you use depends on which method the various government departments and other organisations that hold your official records will accept as documentary evidence of the name change.
Some, like most government departments and many private organisations will accept your decree absolute and marriage certificate as evidence of the change of name. But many others, in particular financial organisations like banks, building societies and insurance companies, etc may not.
If your decree absolute and marriage certificate are not accepted as documentary evidence of the change of name, then a Deed Poll will be required.
With a Deed Poll, everyone will recognise your change of name without question. Of course if you wish to change to a new name altogether, or make alterations to your first or middle names, a Deed Poll will always be required.
Changing your name by Deed Poll is quick and simple (please click here to read a summary of the Deed Poll process). You can also take the opportunity to make other changes to your name. For example, you may wish to change your first name or add, change or remove middle names.
With regards to your title, it is entirely up to you whether you continue using ‘Mrs’ or change your title to ‘Miss’ or ‘Ms’. If you wish to change your title when you change your name, you will find a section on our Deed Poll application form where you can tell us which new title you want so we can incorporate a change of title declaration on your Deed Poll.
If you have children, you may also wish to change their surname by Deed Poll to your new surname - or to a double-barrelled surname (e.g. your surname together with your ex-husband's surname).
However it’s important to note that, when changing a child’s name, the consent of everyone with PR (parental responsibility) is required. If your ex-husband is your children's father, then he will have PR and his consent will be needed for any name change. Click here to read our article ‘Can I change my child’s name?’ for more information about changing a child’s name by Deed Poll.
Can you revert back to your maiden name before you get divorced i.e. on separation, when contemplating divorce or when you’re in the process of getting divorced? Please click here to read about your name change rights and options upon separation.
How to obtain a copy of your decree absolute
If you have lost your decree absolute (and you were divorced in England or Wales), you should contact the Principal Registry of the Family Division, Decree Absolute Section, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6NP (Tel: 020 7947 7017).
For a fee, they will access a union index to the registered court copies of decrees absolute for you, and either provide a certified copy of the information themselves (if the divorce was granted by the Supreme Court) or arrange for a certified copy to be sent to you from the relevant county court.
If the divorce took place within the last 5 years, you can also contact the county court where you divorce was processed (which is usually a cheaper option).
How to obtain a copy of your marriage certificate
You can obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate by calling the General Register Office on 0845 6037788, 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am to 4pm on Saturday.
This page was last checked today by Amanda Dawson, Senior Deed Poll Officer.