How Do You Go Back to Your Maiden Name After Divorce in VA?

How to Go Back to Your Maiden Name After Divorce in VA

To go back to your maiden name at the time of divorce in Virginia, you have to do the following:1

  1. File a motion to restore your maiden name while the divorce is pending;
  2. Pay the required filing fee; and
  3. Submit a proposed court order meeting the requirements of Virginia Code § 8.01-217 to the appropriate circuit court at the same time the final divorce decree is submitted to the court.

You do not need your spouse’s agreement to change your name back to your maiden name or other former name. Once the circuit court judge signs the name change order, your name is legally restored to your maiden name or former name.

You can only use the above process to revert back to a maiden name or former name at the time of divorce. If you wish to change your first name or middle name or change your last name to a name you never legally used in the past, you must go through a different name change process. See below for the details of the general name change process.

What if you are not sure you want to revert back to your maiden name when the divorce is filed?

You do not have to decide whether you want to change your name when the divorce is filed. You can wait until you submit the final divorce decree (the court order that officially divorces you from your spouse). If you wait until after the divorce is finalized to change your name, you can still do it but you have to use a different procedure. See below for more details on this procedure.

What are the pros and cons of going back to your former name?


  • Clean break from name association with your ex-spouse
  • Fresh start and return to your former identity before marriage


  • Can cause confusion in professional life, especially if you have an established business that is already branded in the married name
  • Creates inconsistency with your name and the last name of your children
  • Can cause confusion in social circles
  • Process is time consuming and requires notifying many different entities such as the Social Security Administration, DMV, US Department of State for passports and a whole host of others. See below for a more complete list.

What is the process for reverting back to your maiden name at the time of divorce?

Step 1: Request a name change while the divorce is pending

The first step to change your name is to make a request. You can make the request by asking for the name change in the divorce complaint. The divorce complaint is the initial document you file with the court to initiate the divorce process. If you are not sure you want a name change when the divorce is filed or forget to ask for one in the complaint, you can file a separate motion to restore a former name or maiden name at a later time. Some cities, such as Chesapeake Circuit Court, will allow you to skip this step. These cities will allow for a name change so long as a proper name change order is submitted and the filing fee is paid. Virginia Beach Circuit Court requires that a request for name change be made in the Affidavit of the Moving Party.2

Step 2: Pay the filing fee

The second step is to pay the required filing fee to the clerk of the circuit court. Typically, the filing fee is submitted at the same time the proposed name change order is filed with the court. The filing fee is not uniform across all Virginia courts, but it is generally around $45.00 or less. The Circuit Court Civil Filing Fee Calculator on Virginia’s Judicial System government website can be used to calculate the filing fee for most courts; however, some courts charge less for name changes incident to divorce compared to general name changes. Call the clerk’s office to make sure you are paying the correct fee.

Step 3: Submit a court order that complies with Virginia Code § 8.01-217.

The third step is to submit a proposed court order that complies with Virginia Code § 8.01-217. To ensure compliance with the code section, you should include the following information in the order:

  • statement that a motion was made pursuant to Virginia Code § 8.01-121.4
  • statement that your current legal name is ordered changed to your desired former legal name
  • other former legal names you have had since birth
  • your current address
  • statement that the “clerk of the court shall spread the order upon the current deed book in his office, index it in both the old and new names.”3
  • Although the requirement is not clear from section 8.01-217, you may also want to state that the name change is not sought for a fraudulent purpose, and would not otherwise infringe upon the rights of others.

For a sample name change order, please see Virginia Circuit Court Civil Form CC-1412.

Can you get a name change while separated but before divorce? What about after the divorce is already finalized?

You can get a name change both before the divorce is complete and after it is finalized. However, it generally is best get a name change at the time of divorce. A separate process is required when the name change occurs before or after the finalization of the divorce, so it is more efficient and less confusing to have the divorce and name change completed at the same time.

What is the process to go back to your maiden name before or after the finalization of the divorce?

The process get a name change before or after the finalization of divorce is very similar to the process to get a name change at the time of divorce. You need to file an application, pay the required filing fee, and submit a court order that complies with Virginia Code § 8.01-217. The main difference is that you have to file a more in depth application with the court, and the application must be made under oath. Some courts also require photo identification and a copy of a birth certificate.4 The full application requirements are stated in Virginia Code § 8.01-217. See Virginia Circuit Court Civil Form CC-1411 for a sample application and Form CC-1412 for a sample order.

Who do you need to notify about your Virginia name change?

Once the judge signs the name change order, you can legally begin to use your new name; however, not everyone will immediately recognize the legal change. For that to happen, you will need to notify many different entities including the following:

  1. Social Security Administration (SSA): The first entity you will want to notify about your name change is the Social Security Administration. You will need to submit an application for Social Security Card along with a certified copy of your name change order, proof of age (birth certificate), proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate or passport), and proof of identity (such as a passport, driver’s license, or state ID card). See Application for a Social Security Card, Form SS-5.
  2. Department of State to change a passport: The process to change your name with the Department of State varies depending on how long ago you were issued a passport. For details on the process please see Travel.State.Gov
  3. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You will need to bring your name change order to the DMV to change your name in their records. See the Virginia DMV website for more details.
  4. IRS: The IRS goes by the name on file with the SSA.5 Thus, to notify the IRS of the change you must first notify SSA.
  5. Banks and financial institutions
  6. Retirement providers
  7. Utility companies
  8. Insurance companies
  9. Vehicle registration and title
  10. Estate planning documents
  11. Voter registration
  12. Social media profiles
  13. Email address

Because you will have to notify multiple entities of the name change, it is a good idea to request several certified copies of the name change order. The clerk’s office can help you with this request. You may have to pay a few dollars for the extra copies.

Contact a Virginia Beach Name Change Attorney Today

Need help with a name change? Please give Jordan A. Fanney a call at 757-491-1841 or send him a message through his online contact form.


For information about the divorce process in Virginia, please see The Divorce Process in Virginia.

About the Author

Jordan Fanney is a Virginia Beach divorce attorney that can help you go back to your maiden name after divorce.

Jordan A. Fanney, Esq. is an experienced Virginia Beach divorce attorney who works for Poole Brooke Plumlee PC.  He practices divorce and family law in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, Newport News and the surrounding area.
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  1. Va. Code § 20-121.4. ↩︎
    The Affidavit of the Moving Party is an affidavit used in uncontested no-fault divorce cases to establish a separation ground for divorce without having to testify in court in front of a judge. Va. Code § 20-106. ↩︎
  3. Va. Code § 8.01-217(F). The chief judge of the circuit court can waive the indexing requirement “if the applicant shall show cause to believe that in the event his change of name should become a public record, a serious threat to the health or safety of the applicant or his immediate family would exist.” Va. Code 8.01-217(G). ↩︎
  4.,the%20Circuit%20Court%20Clerk’s%20Office. ↩︎
  5. ↩︎

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