I changed my last name back to my maiden name when I got divorced. I had briefly considered keeping my married name just so that Caroline and I would have the same last name, but it didn’t really sit right with me to carry Tyler’s name for the rest of my life when we had only been married three years. I’m glad that I changed it– I sign my name all day long at work, and every time I do, it makes me happy to write my true name that I was born with.
The actual process of changing it was a pain, of course. The name change itself was easily granted as part of our divorce, but you have to get official copies of everything and go to the DMV, the bank, the credit card company, the utility companies, the apartment rental office, the student loan lenders, and so on. And because I look so young (okay, I am so young), the conversation usually goes something like this:
Me: I’d like to change my name on my license/credit card/bank account, please.
Them: Oh, congratulations! When was the wedding?
Me: Thanks! Actually, I got divorced.
Them: ::horrified look::
(Honestly, I am not bothered by the assumption at all. I find it hilarious to see that “oh s–t” reaction once they realize they’ve put their foot in their mouth. I usually just laugh and tell them it’s fine and that I accept their congratulations regardless.)
I’ve been slowly plugging away at getting everything changed back, and I’m almost done with it. But although I’m very content with my own name, I do wonder from time to time if I should do something about Caroline’s.
In my opinion, there are two points of view that you could take on changing a child’s last name after divorce. On the one hand, Tyler’s involvement in Caroline’s life is minimal. When we go several weeks without hearing from him, I start to think that she might be better off in the long run if she carries the name of the person who raises her, rather than the name of someone she doesn’t really know. Sure, they’re related by blood, but what does that really matter to a child? She doesn’t care where her DNA comes from. She cares who reads books to her before bed and kisses her boo-boos and rocks her when she wakes up from a nightmare. And that is never him. It is always, always me. Would she be better off, I wonder, growing up with my name? Will it bother her to write his name all her life, when he has never really been around?
But then there’s the other side– he wants her to keep his name, and that does matter. It matters a lot, actually. His involvement with her may be minimal, but I don’t want to push him further away by stubbornly insisting on something that, in the end, may not matter to her at all. If what I want is for them to be as close as possible, then it doesn’t make sense for me to pursue anything that might be divisive.
So I’ve come to the tentative conclusion that it’s best for her name to stay as it is. If she wants to change it when she is older, I would support her in that, and I imagine he would too. (Side note: I did go to the probate court just to research what would be involved in the process. I asked the woman at the desk about changing a minor’s name. ”Oh, honey,” she said. ”You’ll need a parent or guardian here to do that for you.” ::sigh::)
If your child’s name is different from yours, have you changed it or ever considered changing it? Why or why not?Add a Comment