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How to Change Your Name  During or After Divorce in California

If you want to keep your name the same after divorce, there is nothing you need to do about it during the divorce process. If you want to change your name, doing so is a simple process. This article addresses the steps you must take to restore your former name before or after your divorce has been finalized.

How do you change your name in California before your divorce is final?

If your divorce has not yet been finalized and you want to restore your pre-marriage name, you must indicate your desire to do so in your final judgment (FL-180) paperwork.

Once you reach the stage of your divorce where there is full resolution of all issues in your divorce matter, make sure box 4(f) is checked on the Judgment (FL-180) form. Then, write in the pre-marriage name you would like restored. You can include this request to revert back to your maiden name be included with your other divorce forms and paperwork submitted to the court in your judgment packet.

Your local Social Security office or DMV may require a certified copy of your judgment. If you’re a Hello Divorce client and would like us to obtain that for you, just let your divorce manager know.

How do you change your name in California after your divorce is final?

If your divorce has already been finalized and you did not indicate your desire for a restoration of your former name in your judgment paperwork, don’t worry. You can still restore your former name. Follow these three steps:

Step one

Collect the items needed to complete the process. This includes a copy of your judgment that has been signed by the judge and a blank copy of the Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (Form FL-395). Obtain this from the court’s website (http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/fl395.pdf).

Step two

Fill out the Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (FL-395) form.

If you are not represented by a lawyer, write your name and address in the upper lefthand box. Indicate “self-represented” where it asks for your lawyer’s name.

Where it asks for the court address, fill in the name of the county where your divorce was finalized as well as the address for the family court in that county. Identify the petitioner and the respondent, and write your case number in the appropriate box.

In Item #1 of this form, indicate the date your judgment was entered.

In Item #2 of this form, write in your full former name. Then, print your name, write in the date, and sign the form.

You do not need to fill in any of the information under the “Order” section of the form or under the “Clerk’s Certificate” portion of the form. The court fills out those portions.

Make two photocopies of your Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (FL-395) form. You now have three copies. Two copies will be submitted to the court, and one copy will be kept by you for your records.

Step three

You can file your name change request by mail or in person.

By mail:

In a large envelope, place two copies of the Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (FL-395) form. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope as well. This is an envelope with the family court’s address as the “return” address and your current mailing address as the “recipient” address. Place sufficient postage on the envelope for two pieces of regular-sized paper.

Address your large envelope to the family court of the county where your divorce case was finalized, and put it in the mail.

In-person:

File the form at the family law clerk’s office in the county where your divorce was finalized.

Once a judge has reviewed and signed your application to restore your former name, the court clerk will use your self-addressed stamped envelope to mail you the Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (FL-395) form with the judge’s signature.

This document is your official record that your name has been lawfully restored, so store it in a safe place.

What do you do after your name has been changed or restored?

After your name change has been finalized, notify the Social Security Administration and the DMV of your name change. Note: Before you change your name with the DMV, you must report your name change to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Changing your name with the SSA

To notify the SSA of your name change, complete and submit the Social Security Form for Name Change (https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf). Submit your form in person or by mail.

When you submit your Social Security Form for Name Change, you will also need to provide the following:

  • A certified copy of the Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (FL-395) or Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage (FL-180) form signed by the judge
  • A copy of your identification, such as your driver’s license or U.S. passport
  • A copy of a document certifying your U.S. citizenship, such as a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. Consular Report of Birth, U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization, or Certificate of Citizenship

To order certified copies of the Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order, visit the clerk’s office of the family court where your divorce was finalized. Order two certified copies: one for the SSA and one for the DMV. Bring your checkbook, too, because you will need to pay a fee of around $30 per certified copy (depending on your county).

Changing your name with the DMV

After you have completed the above steps for changing your name with the SSA, you will need to notify the DMV of your name change in order to get a new driver’s license.

To do this, you must complete and submit a new driver’s license or identification card application (Form DL-44). Then, visit your local DMV with the following:

  • The completed driver’s license or identification card application
  • A certified copy of the Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (if you changed your name after the judgment was filed) or your Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage (FL-180) (if you changed your name when you finalized your divorce)
  • Your old driver’s license
  • Your checkbook — it will cost around $30 to order a new driver’s license with your restored name

At the DMV, you will give your thumbprint, sit for a photograph, surrender your old driver’s license, and pay the fee for the new license.