Changing your surname after divorce

Piotr Kłodziński|
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The basic aspect of obtaining a final divorce decree is the obvious change of marital status to "divorced". This marital status means two basic issues - firstly, we are no longer married, secondly, this change allows us to enter into a new marriage.

Nevertheless, some people, after their (sometimes difficult) experiences, before they start thinking about entering new relationships, first try to restore many things to their previous state. As we know, getting married is associated with, among other things, with a change of surname - in our culture, after marriage, women most often (although this is not a rule) decide to take their husband's surname, or add a second element to their maiden name in the form of their husband's surname.

We decide on a new surname before the wedding

In practice, already at the time of "settling" pre-wedding formalities, people planning to get married are informed about the need to make a decision regarding their future surname or surnames (they can decide that each of them will keep their family name); at the same time, they must also determine what surname their children will have. This activity is not complicated, as it only requires them to submit an appropriate declaration.

Possible divorce It is often associated with the fact that a person who changed their surname when getting married wants to return to the surname they had before the wedding (i.e. their maiden or family name) after the divorce.  

Deadline for changing your name after divorce

The applicable law allows for this possibility, but under certain conditions. Namely, on time three months from the date the divorce decree becomes final a divorced spouse who, as a result of marriage, changed his or her previous surname may: statement complex before the head of the registry office or the consul (if he is outside the country) return to the surname he had before marriage. 

In relation to the above, the most important is defined by regulations the date within which it is possible to return to the surname used before marriage – three months from the date the divorce decree becomes final. During this period, without any major problems, it is possible for the spouse who has decided to return to his or her previous surname to go to the relevant commune office to submit a declaration of will to "return" to the previous surname to the head of the registry office. It is worth noting that this decision is solely the responsibility of the spouse who changed his surname upon entering into marriage.

Can you force your ex-wife (ex-spouse) to change her surname?

No you cant. As a rule, the regulations do not provide for a situation in which, as a result of a divorce decreed, such a request could be made by the other party (e.g. the husband towards his ex-wife bearing his surname). The courts also speak in this spirit.

Documents to be prepared

In order to complete the formalities, it is worth reading the information available on the website of the commune office appropriate for such a person (which includes the registry office as its organizational unit). Some offices provide information on the procedure for changing your name, including additional required documents, and sometimes they also present the entire course of this activity. As a rule, remember to prepare: 

  • identity document (ID card or passport),
  • confirmation of payment of the stamp duty - changing the name requires payment of the stamp duty; for this purpose, it is also worth visiting the website of a given municipal office (or simply calling the employees of this office) to determine how to pay such a fee (of course, currently it will certainly be possible to do it by transfer),
  • information about: the place where the marriage certificate was drawn up and the date the court decision on divorce became final,
  • in the case of submitting a declaration before a consul - a copy of a final court decision on divorce or a copy of a marriage certificate with an entry on divorce.

Information about any other required documents should be provided directly by the head of the relevant registry office. 

As a rule, if you have all the necessary documents and information, the head of the registry office (or the consul) should accept the declaration of will to return to your surname before getting married and there is no need to wait for its consideration.

Then a protocol is prepared - signed by the head of the Civil Registry Office or the consul and the person who wants to return to the previous name. This protocol will also be sent to the head of the registry office that prepared the marriage certificate to attach to the name entry. Following the posting of this information on the above-mentioned files, it is now possible to use the previous surname. 

Remember the deadline - you have 3 months to change your name after divorce!

It is important to be aware of the above. a 3-month period (calculated from the date of the divorce decree becoming final) to return to the pre-marriage name. If this deadline expires, changing the name will be significantly difficult or even impossible, because it can only be the result of initiating proceedings under the ordinary administrative procedure applicable to every person.

An application for such a change is also submitted to the head of the registry office or the consul (in the case of persons living abroad), but it is subject to certain conditions and restrictions. In this respect, it is recognized that a change of name may only take place for important reasons, in particular those indicated by law, i.e. when it concerns a change:

  1. names that ridicule or are inconsistent with human dignity;
  2. for the surname used;
  3. to a name that has been illegally changed;
  4. under the name given under the law of the country of which you also hold citizenship.

Therefore, the entire evidentiary "process" confirming the validity of such a change will come into play. Additionally, the examination of the application ends with the issuance of a decision in which the authority has the right to issue both a positive and negative decision. Of course, you can also entrust this matter to a professional - Legal Counsel provides assistance, in particular in terms of appropriate justification of the application.

However, in the event of a name change resulting from the divorce, to avoid unnecessary problems, it is worth remembering the three-month period during which you have the right to use the "simplified procedure" - without any worries about the final resolution of the case.

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