Advice for women upon divorce

It's a common misconception that a woman’s surname automatically reverts to her maiden name / former name upon divorce. The fact is that, unless you specifically ask government departments, organisations and companies to change your name on your official documents and records, they will continue to refer to you by your married name even though you are now divorced.

If you do ask government departments, organisations and companies to change your name on your documents and records upon divorce, they will ask you to produce ‘documentary evidence’ of the name change.

The term 'documentary evidence' simply refers to a legal document that can be used as evidence of your intention to use a different name to the one you're currently using. A Deed Poll is the most common form of documentary evidence used as proof of a legal change of name upon divorce in the United Kingdom.

Every year thousands of women use a Deed Poll to change their name upon divorce. The most popular choices are -

  • Changing your surname back to your maiden name / former name (either keeping the title of Mrs or changing your title to Ms or Miss), or
  • Changing to an entirely new surname e.g. to a new partner's surname instead of remarrying, or
  • Changing your surname back to a former spouse's surname (e.g. your first spouse’s surname if you've been married more than once before)

Whichever you choose, changing your name and title upon divorce using a Deed Poll is no different from the procedure you followed when you changed your name upon marriage (i.e. you would have written to all the organisations that hold your records explaining that you were changing your name, and you would have enclosed with your letter your marriage certificate as evidence of the name change).

To reverse this upon divorce, you simply do the same i.e. write to each of the organisations that holds your records (click on this link to view a sample letter) explaining that you're changing your name upon divorce, and simply enclose a Deed Poll (or a legal copy) as evidence of the name change. Each organisation will then update your documents and records to show the name you want to use now that you're divorced.

You can apply to change your name (and title if you wish) by Deed Poll now, by clicking on this link.

However, if any of the following applies to you, before you apply for a Deed Poll click on this link to read more about your change of name rights and options upon divorce -

  • You want to change your name before your divorce is finalised
  • You want to know if you can use a decree absolute and marriage certificate instead of using a Deed Poll as evidence of your name change upon divorce
  • You want to change your first name and/or add middle names at the same time as changing a surname upon divorce
  • You plan to travel overseas soon after changing your name upon divorce
  • You want to change your child's name upon divorce
  • You want to know if your ex-partner can force you to change your name upon divorce
  • You have specific questions about changing your name (and/or title) upon divorce

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Sections in this article
Click on the links below to view each section of this article:


1.         Advice for women upon divorce (Viewing)
2.         FAQs about changing a woman's name upon divorce

Page accuracy last checked today by Miranda O'Hara, Snr. Deed Poll Officer. Status: Passed.

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