Recently, Katherine Ellis, a partner with The Harris Law Firm in Denver, Colorado, hosted a webinar titled, Name Changes in Family Law Cases: Whose Name Can You Change and How Do You Do It?
The attorneys at Harris Law Firm are experts at offering advice on divorce matters and this webinar is just one example of the kind of value they offer to clients and the general public. Thanks to Katy and her associates for such a relevant and insightful topic!
As a divorce mediator, changing a last name is of interest to my clients as well. A name change, for one of the divorcing parties, or their children, is a significant step and must be undertaken with the requisite seriousness and consideration it deserves.
Let’s first look at the instance of what a divorcing or divorced woman would need to do to change her last name. She may want to revert back to her maiden name or choose a completely new last name.
So how would she proceed in Colorado?
Step 1) Fingerprints
Step 2) Criminal History Check
Step 3) File Paperwork in the County Court where she lives
Step 4) Hearing (Depends on where you live)
Step 5) Publication (May be waived)
Step 6) Receive a Final Decree from the Court
Currently it costs $108 in fees and requires completion of four forms.
That seems like a lot of work, is there any easier way?
Yes, and the timing is crucial. It is easier and you CAN change your name BEFORE your divorce is final.
If you've just started the divorce process, the best way to restore your name is to check the box on your petition for divorce and provide your previous name. But, if you are responding to a petition for divorce ( JDF 1103), you need to provide your previous name. If you are filing an uncontested divorce pro se’ (without legal representation), and you do not have minor children you do not need to appear before a judge or magistrate. In this case, when completing the paperwork you will also need to advise the Court of your desire to restore your maiden name on form (JDF 1201) Affidavit For Decree Without Appearance of the Parties (Marriage).
Note this will only work if you are reverting back to your maiden name. If you wish to adopt a brand new last name, you will have to go through the formal process discussed above.
If you've done either way and wish to share your experience or weigh in, please do in the comments below. #divorce #namechange