When you are born you’re given a name. It’s who you are. It’s the family name. It’s whom you belong with. But little girls all over the world practice writing the name they will one day become, "Mrs. Prince Charming."
We all do it. We dream about, we pray about it and plan for it. Then, one day, you get married and you change your last name and it feels like such an accomplishment. It’s who you’ve become. It’s the name you share with your husband. It’s the name you will give to your children. It’s the name of the family you will create together.
Unfortunately, marriages do not always last forever. Divorce happens and many serious decisions have to be made. There is so much to consider. Things like alimony, child support, custody arrangements and asset divisions. There’s also something else to give great consideration to and that is your name. Remember it’s who you are. It’s who you’ve become. Most importantly, it’s who you are going to be.
Don’t let anyone make the decision about going back to your maiden name for you. The decision is yours and yours alone. No one can force you to keep or change your name.
When you file or when your attorney helps you file, there is a section in the documents that allows the wife to change her name back to a former name. Or not. At the hearing, the judge will grant that along with all of the other arrangements that have been worked out through the divorce process. There’s no extra fee. You just need to request it when you file. It’s as simple as that.
What isn’t simple is making the decision. I’ve done it a few times so I consider myself a bit of an expert on this subject. I’ve changed my name from my maiden name to three different husband’s names and back again. This last name change was the most difficult decision but has been the best decision I could have possibly made.
When filing for my first divorce I chose to keep my married name. I liked it and it was the name all my friends and co-workers knew me as and it was my kid’s last name. I never considered going back to my maiden name. The decision was easy for me.
When I married again I took my new husband’s name. His first wife had also remarried and taken her new husband’s name. But she soon divorced again and she took back her first husband’s name. My name. Our name. I was shocked and confused. But she and I had become friends and she explained it to me.
She assured me that taking back the name had nothing to do with my husband. She explained that her kids had asked her to take back their name. Wow, I could not argue with that. Her kids were important to me as well and I completely understood them wanting their mom to have the same name. It reassured them that they were all still connected.
Time went on and my second marriage ended. It made perfect sense for me to take back the name of my children too.
Eventually, I married again. Third time is the charm I thought and I took his name. And with the most devastating circumstances that marriage ended after 14 years. I faced a really serious decision. Who was I? Where would my future lead me? What was my name going to be?
After many years in business with this man I had become my last name. I was well known in my field but I just could not stomach continuing to be associated with him. I agonized over it before I made up my mind. Who was I going to become? It was going to be like starting out as a stranger. I would have to let a lot of people know that I was formerly this but now I’m that. I seriously considered going back to my maiden name but I hadn’t been that person since I was 18-years-old. I was 50. That little voice nagged me not to do it.
My children were grown. They didn’t need me to have their name. It was possible that my daughter would marry and change her name in the future anyway.
Of course my son would always keep his name. I really liked his last name. It sounded professional and it was the name I had used for much of my adulthood. I decided to take my first husband’s name back. I would once again be Liz Logan.
As with everything else in my life though, it wasn’t that simple. In true Jerry Springer style my ex had married another Liz. It doesn’t end there. No, no. They had also divorced. He’s moved on to wife number three. They have a family of their own and have no contact with us Liz’s. He doesn’t even keep in touch with the three children that he fathered with us. I have two and she has one. But throughout the years my children have stayed close to her and to their little brother. We’ve all stayed close. So, I gave her a call.
True to form with her bubbly personality she told me this. "Of course I don’t mind you taking back the name. You were the first Liz Logan. We will both be Liz Logan. It's who we are. It’s fitting. It’s funny. And we’re family."