Although it's not a requirement or a foregone conclusion, it is still customary and quite common for women to assume their new husband's last name when they get married. In many cases, the husband's last name becomes the family name that also signifies the relationship between parents and their children.
Unfortunately, the decision about what to do with their new assumed name after a divorce is a difficult one for many women to make. For some, it might make sense to return to their maiden name. Others may wish to keep their married name because they have become professionally known by it. Still other women want to keep the name consistent with their children's last name.
If you are a divorcing woman, the decision to change your last name or keep it is entirely up to you for whatever reasons you choose. However, if you live in Florida, waiting too long to make up your mind about a name change could cost you hundreds of dollars.
Under Florida law, the filing fee for changing your name (for any reason) is currently $400. But while a divorce case is still open, though, a divorcing woman has the option to change her last name for free and avoid the costly filing fee.
It should be noted that this is not an indefinite window of opportunity. Once the divorce has been finalized, the fee for changing back to your maiden name goes back up to $400. This is because Florida law does not normally differentiate between maiden-name restoration and changing a name for any other purpose.
While it may be very tempting to take advantage of saving $400, you shouldn't feel pressured into making a decision if you are not ready to do so. Each person's name is one of the most personal possessions they own, and it's better to pay several hundred dollars in the future than to make a decision you may ultimately regret.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Women can regain maiden name free in divorce - or pay $400 if they wait," Amy Pavuk, Feb. 2, 2013
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