Can I Change My Name After I Divorce? Can I Change My Kids’ Names? Advice from Milwaukee Divorce Lawyers

May 10, 2024 Divorce, Post-Divorce

At the time of divorce, a woman can request that the court restore her to her former surname following a contested divorce or uncontested divorce in Milwaukee, WI. If she makes such a request following the divorce proceedings, it will be granted. The other party from uncontested divorces cannot object or prevent her from doing so.

Likewise, if a woman wants to keep her married surname after a divorce, her husband cannot object or insist that she change it due to family law matters in Milwaukee, WI.

It is a little-known fact that the divorce court actually has the authority to change a woman’s AND a man’s last name at the time of an uncontested divorce in Milwaukee, WI. The relevant statute states:

767.395 Wis. Stats.: Except as provided in s. 301.47, the court upon granting a divorce, shall allow either spouse, upon request, to resume a former surname, if any.

This statute is intended to give both husbands and wives the right to resume their former surnames from divorce mediation. This rule in family law cases is necessary because at the time of marriage sometimes spouses create a new surname (for example, by hyphenating or otherwise combining their last names) and sometimes husbands take the surname of their spouse (for example in cases of gay marriage or where a husband chooses to assume his wife’s last name).

In all such family law issues such as this, a party to a divorce can elect to resume a former surname at the time of divorce without the needed assistance of a Milwaukee divorce attorney practicing law. The sole caveat to this is that they can only choose a last name they have legally used before. They cannot choose a new last name or a last name they have never legally used according the federal and Wisconsin law.

For example, if a woman was born with the surname “Smith” and then got married and took the surname “Johnson,” she could only revert to “Smith” upon divorce from Mr. Johnson. But if Mr. Johnson died and she got remarried to Mr. Hall, she could elect either the surname “Smith” or the surname “Johnson” upon divorce. But she could not choose to start fresh by electing her mother’s maiden name of “Wilson.” If she wanted to elect a surname she had never legally held, she could do so only by filing a formal name change proceeding.

Once a divorce party elects a new surname following the divorce process in Milwaukee, WI, it becomes effective immediately. However, their only “proof” of that name change will be in the Judgment of Divorce which may not be received until several weeks after the final divorce hearing.

Once the Judgment of Divorce is entered by the Milwaukee County court and received by the divorce party following legal separation, he or she can take the Judgment of Divorce to the Division of Motor Vehicles and to the Social Security Administration to obtain a new driver’s license or I.D. card and a new Social Security card after the divorce papers from the divorce case have been finalized. 

These steps should be taken within a reasonable time after receiving the Judgment of Divorce because continuing to use the other party’s surname could invalidate the name change set forth in the Judgement. Wisconsin recognizes the common law right to change one’s name through consistent and continuous use as long as the name-change is not made for any fraudulent purpose.

Child Name Change After Divorce With an Experienced Milwaukee Divorce Lawyer

While both parents have the right to change their last name after a divorce with divorce attorneys, minor children do not. This is often a primary consideration for parents who get divorced as to whether or not they should change their own last names. Parents often want to maintain the same surname as their children. Knowing children cannot change their last name is a factor for parents to consider when it comes to child support and child custody. The only time a family court can change a child’s name is during a Paternity case with child support. If the minor child who is the subject of a Paternity matter has a last name that is different from the father’s or that the parents cannot agree on, the court can order the parents to hyphenate the child’s last name to include both of their surnames. 

If a parent wants to change a child’s name after the parents divorce or separate, Wisconsin law requires that the parent has to have the other parent’s consent and might even involve divorce law firms. If the other parent won’t consent, the parent can file a formal name-change proceeding. However, if the parent opposing the name-change appears and objects, the court cannot change the child’s name under family law section in Milwaukee, WI. The court can, again, only change the child’s name if the opposing parent consents or does not appear or object after having been properly notified of his or her rights to do so.

In Wisconsin, children who are fourteen years of age or older can petition a court to change their name without their parents’ consent in the aftermath of Milwaukee divorces.

To learn more about how you or your children can change your names after a divorce case, consult one of our experienced Milwaukee family law attorneys. Our Milwaukee divorce lawyers can address these issues and other divorce cases involving contested divorces and uncontested divorce for all Milwaukee residents. Call our divorce attorneys today at: (414) 453-0800.