In North Carolina, changing your last name contemporaneously with getting a divorce is easier than you might think. Though the process can be paper intensive, an experienced family law attorney, like those at Dozer Miller, can easily assist you in changing your last name as part of the divorce process.
The easiest and most straightforward way to change your last name is to petition to have your name changed at the same time that you file your complaint for absolute divorce. To be clear, when changing your last name incident to divorce you are only allowed to resume your maiden name, the last name of your previously deceased spouse, or the last name of your former living spouse if, and only if, you had children from your marriage to that spouse that carry the same last name.
In order to file for divorce in North Carolina, you must first be separated from your spouse for a period of more than one (1) year (note: special rules and procedures exist for divorces based on “incurable insanity”). If you have been separated from your spouse for more than one (1) year and you would like to proceed with obtaining a divorce, you will need to file the following documents with the clerk of the county where either you or your spouse lives:
- A complaint, stating the facts of your case and your request for divorce.
- A civil summons.
- A Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet.
- An affidavit pursuant to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), telling the court whether or not your spouse is in the military. You can search military records to determine an individual’s status here. You will need to create a free account with DMDC in order to perform a search.
- You must pay the court filing fee. If you are unable to afford the fee, you can apply to file as an indigent using this form. Mecklenburg County’s filing fee for obtaining a divorce is $225.00.
If you would also like to have your last name changed as part of the entry of a Judgment of Absolute Divorce, you should include in your complaint a request that you be allowed to resume one of qualifying names set forth above. In the proposed Judgment of Absolute Divorce, you should include a sentence that states that you are allowed to resume your chosen name. It is important to note that there is an additional $10.00 fee to obtain a name change as part of the divorce action in Mecklenburg County.
If you do not include a request to have your last name changed in your complaint for absolute divorce and it is not thereafter ordered in the Judgement of Absolute Divorce as outlined hereinabove, you will have to file an official Application/Notice of Resumption of Former Name following the entry of the divorce judgment in order to effectuate a name change.
Remember that after you have successful changed your last name following divorce you will need to update important documents such as your passport, driver’s license, social security card, and credit cards. These things are especially important if you travel often.
At Dozier Miller, we have ten (10) family law attorneys handling family law matters in North Carolina. If you find yourself facing a family law matter, including obtaining an absolute divorce or changing your last name incident to divorce, contact a member of our family law team today and schedule your initial consultation.