Changing Your Last Name in South Carolina

What a woman chooses to do with her last name after a divorce is entirely up to her. She can elect to adopt her former family name (i.e., her maiden name) or she can choose to keep her recent ex-husband’s last name. Whatever she decides, it is her choice.

Getting a Name Change via A Divorce Decree

In order to have a person’s name legally changed, the change must be done through some legal action. One convenient way for a woman to have her last name changed back to her former surname is to have the name change incorporated into the divorce decree as provided in S.C. Code Annotated Section 20-3-180. If a woman who wants to have her surname restored to her former name incidental to her divorce, she will make a request to the family court judge who is presiding over her divorce. The judge will acknowledge the request, place it in the divorce decree, and the name change will be legally official when the divorce decree is issued.

But simply having your surnamed changed by your divorce decree isn’t enough to have your name legally changed on any accounts that you hold or for business purposes. In order for your name to be changed on any accounts you hold, you will need to give a copy of your divorce decree that is certified by the clerk of court to your bank, credit cards, the DMV, etc. to officially change your name with those entities.

Applying For A Name Change

In all other situations, if you would like to change your name, you will have to apply to change your last name via a petition to a family court judge in accordance with S.C. Code Annotated Section 15-49-10. Making an application for a name change in this fashion requires that an application be made in accordance with Section 15-49-20. Under this section, an applicant is required to provide:

  1. The results of a criminal background check and fingerprint identification, conducted by the state law enforcement division
  2. A screening statement from the state law enforcement division indicating whether the applicant is on the division’s sex offender registry
  3. A screening statement that the person seeking the name change is not on the Department of Social Services Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect
  4. An affidavit indicating whether the applicant is required by court order to pay child or spousal support

A woman might decide that she doesn’t mind keeping her ex-husband’s last name after a divorce, so she does not request to have the change included in her divorce decree; however, months or years later, she decides that his last name does not suit her, and she wants a change. In this situation, it is too late for her to take advantage of changing her name via the divorce decree, and she will have to go through the name change application process instead.

Contact a Charleston Divorce Lawyer Today

When you are contemplating getting divorced, an experienced divorce lawyer can help you through the process, from weighing the pros and cons of seeking a divorce, to going through your divorce proceedings, to changing your name at the conclusion of your divorce. The Charleston divorce lawyers at McCoy & Stokes, LLC can provide you with legal guidance and support every step of the way. Contact us today.

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