Saturday, April 11, 2009

What's in a Name? Can I Take Back My Name from My Ex-Wife?

A question that comes up occasionally is whether a husband can make his ex-wife change her last name so that she no longer uses his last name. The short answer is NO.

While adults can change their own names either as part of a divorce or as a separate action, the Texas Family Code does not provide a means to force someone else to change her name.

So, if you can't force her to change her name, can you talk her into it? Maybe, but there are some difficulties associated with the name change. She would have to change her driver's license and Social Security card. She would need to change over credit cards and loans. In other words, your ex-wife may not want to put up with the aggravation of changing everything, just to make you happy.

One other factor is the presence or absence of children. If you and your wife have children together and they have the same last name as you and your wife, she may not want to change her name. On the other hand, if your wife does not have children with your last name, she may be less tied to your name. Or, if your wife has children with a last name different from yours, she might be interested in changing back to that name.

Another factor is that if a husband is pushing hard for his wife to change her name as part of the divorce, she may decide not to go along with it, just to annoy her husband. (Imagine such behavior during a divorce!)

Conclusion: You just don't have much control over someone else's name.

Finally, everything else being equal, husbands should be aware that wives who have used another last name for a short period of time often will be more inclined to change their name.

Conclusion: You just don't have much control over someone else's name.