How to change back to your maiden name after Divorce or Separation

Originally published on 29th March 2019 at 1:29 PM
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Changing name after divorce of separation can be a symbolic way to disassociate from the past and mark the start of a new life chapter.

There are several choices and scenarios that need to be considered before changing names after the end of a relationship. Here’s the low down on the most common ones:

When is the right time to change your name after divorce or separation?

Firstly, this is something that needs to be carefully considered. If you are recently separated it’s best to ensure that the decision to revert to your maiden name is not one fuelled from anger. Doing so in haste may be something you later regret - not to mention the time and effort involved to reverse - should you change your mind down the road.

There is no time limit to changing your name after divorce. And there is no legal obligation to either. Some will opt to keep their married name post-divorce and they are absolutely entitled to do so. For others it’s a no brainer to whip the plaster off as soon as the divorce is finalised. Those on the fence often keep their married name initially and assess things further down the road - particularly if there are children involved. Opting to have a different name to your children is something that needs to be weighed up. It’s an important consideration but it shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision-making process – who you are known as and how others address you is something you will face in your new, everyday life so it needs to be right for you.

So what are my options?

Going back

This is commonly referred to as reverting to your maiden name. It can be done with or without a deed poll. A decree absolute or final order certificate entitles a woman to revert to her maiden name (birth surname) and is accepted as documentary evidence by all government bodies (including The Passport Office and the DVLA) and companies across the UK. It should be presented alongside either a birth certificate or marriage/civil partnership certificate to show the lineage of the birth name.


This is a popular half-way house between going back to your birth name whilst maintaining a linkage for your children or established professional reputation. A deed poll will be required to initiate a double-barrelled surname post separation or divorce.

Starting again

For many, one of the most symbolic ways to start afresh is to create a completely new surname after separation or divorce. A deed poll is required for this to take effect legally and should accompany any name change requests sent to government bodies and companies in the UK.

Can men change their name too?

Absolutely! All options outlined above, and the type of supporting documents needed to initiate each change type applies to men too.

What documents do I need to change my name?

The documents you need will depend on which name change option you choose.

Not every company requires sight of an original document, but a substantial proportion do - for example The Passport Office, DVLA and most financially regulated (FCA) companies insist on seeing the original. Having multiple copies of an original document will enable multiple name-change requests to be sent off in parallel.

Additional original copies of either a Decree Absolute or Final Order can be ordered from HM Courts & Tribunal Services.

Marriage, civil partnership & birth certificates can be obtained from the General Register Office (GRO). The cost for a replacement copy ranges from £11- £65 depending on the level of detail known.

All name-change requests after separation or divorce must be accompanied by a legally recognised document/s as outlined below.

Reverting to a birth Surname – there are two options:

Option 1

  • Decree absolute/ final order
  • Marriage certificate/civil partnership certificate OR birth certificate

Option 2

  • Deed Poll Certificate

All other options require a Deed Poll:

  • Double-Barrelling
  • Removing part of a Double-Barrelled surname
  • Creating a brand-new surname
  • Changing names before legal proceedings are completed

How do I change my surname after divorce - our top tips

  • Take the time to consider your options. Make the choice that is right for you.
  • Seek legal advice before changing your name on any shared assets, debts or accounts that may be part of divorce proceedings.
  • If you plan to change your name before or during divorce proceedings, please make your legal representative aware and discuss the pros & cons and sensible sequencing.
  • Having 2-4 original copies of your legal document (decree absolute or deed poll) will enable multiple name-change requests to be sent off in parallel.

How can NameSwitch help?

The average name changer notifies approximately 24 different government bodies, local authorities, and companies. Figuring out who needs what can be daunting and takes 14 hours of stop-start research, letter writing and form filling. Most name changers find this process tedious and overly complicated.

NameSwitch has an array of affordable packages to help you blitz through your change of name after divorce or separation. If you are using your decree absolute, you can opt for either the ePackage or the Print Package. If you need a deed poll based on the scenarios described in this guide, you can opt for our Deed Poll Print Package.

Head to NameSwitch for further guidance on your options and help yourself to a free name change checklist to get you started.

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Comments (1)

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Lisa Hart
18.12.2020 5:08

I went to apply for a bank account now they won't accept it as im not useing my Madden name as im devorced and useing my marriage name since 1992 now the told me the government changed in 2 3 months so how do I change my Madden last name back and how much dose it cost I have the marriage certificate and the devorced papers thank u