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Change of Name After Divorce in Australia: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Getting a change of name after divorce reverses the tradition of a married couple having the same name.

For many people, this is a significant part of the separation process.

Changing a surname after a marriage has long been customary for one or both spouses.

Women tend to be known by their husband’s surname after getting married, although today, fewer women choose to take their partner’s name than in the past.

Many women who adopted their husband’s surname upon marriage choose to revert to their maiden name after separation or divorce.

People may wish to keep their former spouse’s name or revert to their birth name for various reasons.

However, names are not legal property; no one can be forced to use or stop using their ex-partner’s name.

What is the Process for Changing My Name After Divorce in Australia?

In Australia, the process for changing your name after a divorce can depend on whether you wish to revert to your maiden name or adopt an entirely new name.

Reverting to Maiden Name

If you wish to revert to your maiden name after a divorce, you generally do not need to go through a formal legal name change process. You can start using your maiden name at any time following your separation or divorce.

Reverting to your maiden name after a divorce is generally a straightforward process and doesn’t usually require a formal name change. Here are the steps to do it:

  1. Decide to Use Maiden Name: The first step is simply using your maiden name. You can revert to your maiden name anytime, regardless of marital status.
  2. Notify Relevant Entities: Once you’ve decided to use your maiden name, notify all relevant parties. This includes your employer, bank, the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Home Affairs for your passport and the Department of Transport for your driver’s license.
  3. Provide Necessary Documentation: You’ll likely need to provide copies of identification documents and your divorce decree or marriage certificate. These prove your identity and show the link between your married and maiden names.
  4. For instance, to change the name on your passport, you’ll need to complete a new passport application form and submit it with your previous passport, birth certificate, and evidence that links all of your names if you’ve had different names at different times.
  5. Update All Records: Once your request is approved, update all personal records and documents to reflect your maiden name. This includes utility accounts, leases or mortgages, insurance policies, health records, social media accounts, email, etc.

Adopting a New Name

The process is more involved if you wish to change your name to something entirely new after a divorce. You must apply to your state or territory’s Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registry for a legal name change. This usually involves:

  • Completing an application form
  • Paying the applicable fees
  • Providing proof of your identity
  • Possibly providing additional documentation or undergoing further checks depending on your state or territory’s requirements

Once your application is approved, you’ll receive a certificate showing your new name, which you can use to update all your documents and records.

Please note that the process can vary between states and territories, so checking the specific requirements with your area’s Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registry is recommended.

Can I Change My Children’s Names After Divorce?

Changing a child’s name after divorce in Australia is possible, but it’s more complex than changing an adult’s name. In general, you need the consent of both parents to change a child’s name. Here are the general steps:

  1. Agree on the Name Change: The first step is for both parents to agree on the name change. If one parent does not agree, the other parent can apply to a court for an order to change the child’s name. The court will consider the child’s best interests when granting the order.
  2. Apply to the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages: If both parents agree or a court order has been obtained, the next step is to apply to the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in your state or territory. Typically, supporting documents like the child’s birth certificate, evidence of any previous name changes, and possibly other forms of identification must accompany the application.
  3. Pay the Fee: A fee is usually associated with changing a child’s name. The amount varies depending on the state or territory.
  4. Receive the Updated Birth Certificate: If the application is successful, you’ll receive an updated birth certificate showing the child’s new name.

When considering whether or not to change a child’s surname, the court will reach a decision based on many considerations, including:

  • The reasons for the name change
  • The desire of the other parent that the child’s name remains the same
  • Whether the proposed surname is double-barrelled (hyphenated)
  • Any possible confusion of identity
  • The child’s views, depending on their age and maturity
  • The effect of the name change on the child’s relationship with each of their parents
  • The amount of time the child spends with each parent
  • Any short-term embarrassment weighed up against the long-term effects
  • Any advantages to keeping the current name

A New Beginning: Assisting with a Surname Change at Justice Family Lawyers

A client sought our help to alter her daughter’s surname following a DNA paternity test revelation: the man whose surname the child carried was not her biological father.

At Justice Family Lawyers, we guided the client through the intricate legal process of name change. We demonstrated the circumstances necessitating the change and justified its best interest for the child’s wellbeing.

The Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages successfully approved the application with our strong representation. The name change marked the start of a new chapter for the mother and daughter, who could move forward with their lives.

Considering to Change of Name After Divorce?

Justice Family Lawyers can help you navigate the legalities of reverting to your maiden name or choosing a new one.

Our experienced divorce lawyers team can provide guidance and support during this transition, making the process simpler and stress-free. Start your new chapter with confidence. Contact Justice Family Lawyers today.

2 thoughts on “Change of Name After Divorce in Australia: A Step-by-Step Guide”

  1. Hi , l am recently divorced after 23 years and would like to change my surname but l don’t wish to revert to my maiden name but another family surname.
    How involved is this regarding property ownership?
    Thank you, Jillian.

    1. If you wish to change your surname to another family name, you will need to apply for a change of name through the state department in which you reside. Whilst the change of name will not impact any entitlements to property, it will require some additional administrative steps. Once your name change is official, you’ll need to update the name on any property titles to reflect your new surname as well as any relevant institutions such as banks, utility providers and mortgage lenders.

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