You may have chosen to take your spouse’s name when you got married, but feel that now you have split up, you’d like to use your own name again (or perhaps a completely new name!). Here’s what you need to know.
Can I Change My Name?
Of course you can! More often changing name affects women, as they are traditionally the ones to change their last name when married, but the law is the same for both men and women.
Changing Back to Your Maiden Name
Many people choose to revert to their own family name after they separate or divorce. There is no legal requirement to do that, and a spouse cannot insist that their former partner stops using their family name.
A person can change back to their own family name at any time, even if separation and divorce are not part of the equation. Since 1986, it has not been necessary to use a deed poll. There is no formal way of practically changing your name these days. You can simply start using your former name or the name that you choose. Your new, or old, name is adopted by usage.
Practically, and because fraud and identity theft is now such an issue, you will need to contact banks, VicRoads, Centrelink, Child Support Agency, ATO, Medicare, and other government agencies and service providers. Generally, if you provide a copy of your birth certificate and marriage certificate to the relevant agency, reverting to your own family name is not problem.
A New Name
If a man or a woman wishes to change their name to a name that is not their family name, it is possible to do so, and that is an occasion when registering a deed poll is useful. You will need legal advice about how to do that, or to contact the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages at www.bdm.vic.gov.au.
Passports and Name Changes
The passports office has specific requirements. If you are changing your name to any name not on your birth certificate or passport, you will need to register a change of name with the Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages or the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Click here for more information about names and passports.
If you are reverting to your maiden name, you will need to apply for a new passport, and supply your birth certificate, marriage certificate, and your current or former passport.
Changing Children’s Names
In Australia, a child’s name can only be changed by the agreement of both parents, or by an order of a court. It is rare for a child’s name to be changed after separation or divorce, and usually only happens when there is some extreme situation such as one parent being deemed the solely responsible parent by the court. That is rare, and usually only happens when there is some extreme situation, such as one parent being deemed the solely responsible parent by the court. That is rare, and usually the result of serious misbehaviour, crime, or very high conflict.
Unless both parents agree, legal advice is needed to have a change of name for a child, and will mean court proceedings.
Changing your name isn’t nearly as difficult a process as you would think, and it’s one less thing to worry about.