What's My Name?

If you Google ‘changing your name after divorce’ the general assumption is that women want to return to their maiden name. I guess it makes sense that if you took your husband’s surname when you married you would want to return to your own name when you divorce. But I don’t want to. Yes I still share the same surname as my ex, but is that really a problem?

The inside page of a moleskine notepad which reads "In case of loss, please return to:" with a felt tip drawn ? And a blue pen

The main reason I’m in no rush to change my surname is because a very special person has the same surname as me: my eldest daughter. If you don’t have children changing your surname may be a symbolic way to distance yourself from your ex, but I don’t want to distance myself from my daughter.  As my two daughters have two different fathers they will never both have the same surname as me, but changing back to my maiden name would mean not having the same surname as either of them. 

Then of course there is the more practical reason I don’t want to change my name, it’s a huge amount of admin. If you want to take your husband’s surname when you get married your marriage certificate works as evidence of your new name. Send copies off to all the various institutions and hey presto you get sent new cards, driving license, post etc in your new “Mrs” name. When your divorce is finalised if you want to revert to your maiden name then most places will accept your marriage certificate and your decree absolute as evidence that your old name is now your new name. For some organisations this isn’t good enough, you also have to change your name by deed poll. So on top of the faff of contacting everywhere, and paying to change your name on certain documents (like your passport) you also have to pay to change your name.

Alternatively I can just keep my existing surname. No expense. No paperwork. No hassle.

Then there is the decision about what to put in front of my name. Does divorce stop me being a “Mrs”? Clearly my days of being a “Miss” are behind me, so do I change my prefix to “Ms”? As far as I can tell it is my choice and I don’t have to provide any evidence for the change. I wonder if that’s the same as with other prefixes, can I call myself a Lady for instance?

I find it funny that I don’t know what I should call myself yet there are some things which are constant: my email addresses have all stayed the same as before I got married, as has my Twitter name (I don’t think I had Instagram back then). To 1000s of people I am EssexKate and my surname is irrelevant. 
I appear to have a stronger identity on social media than in real life. 

Of course there is always the option to change my name to something completely new. Maybe Ms Kate Essex?


  1. My mum kept her married name for the same reason as you, she didn't want her surname to be different to her children. She still uses her married name nearly 30 years on. It must be a very difficult decision to make.

  2. if I were ever to get divorced, I would keep my husband's surname because to revert to my maiden name would mean taking the name of the father who decided he wanted nothing more to do with me when I was a teenager.


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