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13 March 2015

What’s in a Name? Changing your name after separation or divorce

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It is not unusual for one spouse to take the other spouse’s surname after marriage.  

In Queensland, after you marry, you do not necessarily need to go through the official name change process.  Rather, you can use your registered marriage certificate as an official proof of identity document when advising organisations about your name change.  The exception to this is if you were married overseas and the organisations you are advising of your name change do not accept overseas marriage certificates as an official identification document.

What happens if the parties separate or divorce?

If you separate or divorce and want to revert back to your maiden or birth name, you do not need to go through the official name change process.  Rather, you can change between your maiden and married name as you wish.

The only documentation you need to implement a name change between your married or birth name is a copy of your registered marriage certificate.

Some organisations require you to produce a copy of your Divorce Order evidencing your divorce, but this is not a legal requirement and you can change your name between your married and birth names without it.

But I applied to legally change my name – can I still rely on my registered marriage certificate or divorce order to revert to my birth name?

The short answer is no.

If you applied to the Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages to legally change your name, you will need to file another application to register another name change, even if you are reverting to a previous name.

You can apply to change your name if you were born or adopted in Queensland, or born overseas and have lived in Queensland for the past 12 months.  You will also need to provide supporting documents if you have previously changed your name (for example, marriage certificate, birth certificate, change of name document).  Name changes can only be effected every 12 months.

You will need to ensure that:

  • Your new name is not a prohibited name;
  • You provide sufficient detail outlining why you are changing your name;
  • If you are in the custody of Corrective Services, you obtain written approval from the Chief Executive in advance.

Further information regarding name changes can be found on the following website – Queensland Government – Changing your name

Summary

Unless you filed an application to officially change your name, the only documents you need to effect a name change on government or official documents to or from your birth or married names, are:

  1. Registered Marriage Certificate; or
  2. Divorce Order

If, however, you applied to legally change your name, you will need to make another application to Births, Deaths and Marriages to change your name again.

If we can assist you with any family law advice please contact our office.

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