Community Conversation > Legal Matters

Question on timing of divorce vs. name change


Hi everyone --

My wife has asked me for a divorce, and we are beginning the process with the expectation that the divorce will be final in early/mid January.  We are purposely moving the court date to 2023 in order to avoid messing with our 2022 taxes.

I am also targeting December as the time when I will begin presenting full-time as Sara.  I would prefer to be able to get my name changed at about the same time as I begin presenting full time for multiple reasons:

* My work will not change email address, security (picture) badge, account names, or any of that until the name change is legal
* My bank cards cannot change until the name change is legal
* I would really like to get my driver's license updated as soon as possible because I don't like being "carded" as Brian
* Truthfully, I just want to start getting ON with my life, you know?
Anyway, my question is whether having the name change in progress while I'm going through a divorce is going to be problematic.  If so, how long should I wait?  Until the divorce is final?  Until all assets have been completely split?  That could take a while, especially in regards to pension / retirement assets.

Does anybody else have experience with this timing issue?


I would proceed with the name change. The divorce papers would include whatever your legal name is at the time of the decree, along with 'aka (other name)'. If your name change is complete before you file taxes for 2022, you will need to file under your legal name at the time you file. I changed my legal name in early February and submitted my taxes as 'Jessica' even though all of the previous years' earnings were under my dead name. I had no issues at all and wasn't even asked for a letter to explain the name change to the IRS. It's possible rules have changed since then, so always do your own research to be sure.

Many states require an FBI background check prior to approving a legal name change, these can take months if you use the 'paper' route. I found an 'expediter' who did all of the paperwork electronically, including fingerprints. They charged around $100, but the results were back in three days! You may also have to get a background check through your state law enforcement department. I'm not sure how long this could take for your state, but they typically want the state and federal background checks performed within a few weeks of each other. Again, YMMV, so check your state-specific requirements.

Love always -- Jessica Rose

I would say two things, one I consider to be relatively smart, the second I consider to be much smarter.

1 - name change is like the root of a tooth or a tree - it goes much deeper and is harder to completely track down than people initially think.  So starting as soon as possible is always the best course of action.  That’s the smart piece of advice.

2. The smarter piece - as someone with a law degree, but who never practiced in either divorce nor in LGBTQIA law… I am 100% sure there ARE such people, perhaps if you’re retaining counsel in an advisory capacity for your divorce he/she can help you find someone to get this answer, or if you’re just using the mediator then perhaps you can find such a person online.  My point is, there are definitely experts in this field who are more than willing to share the straight answer to this question with you just via e-mail (not for a fee), and I’d strongly advise leaning on them.

Because, to be honest, I’m pretty certain in most/all states you cannot alter your marriage license to reflect a name change. So I’m not sure how messy a name change prior to dissolving that marriage makes it.  But I’d want to consult an expert before potentially making a lot of extra work for yourselves.  This is all before you even get to the tax question.

Either way, the great part is — unlike a lot of people — you’re ahead of the curve because you’re starting out by doing something most people don’t do right away — asking the right questions!

Good luck!!!


Hey Sara, very late to this party, but I changed my name in the middle of my divorce process. No problem, the attorneys began using the new name, as did my wife. They referenced the old name once in the final decree, but that's all.

Sent from my Pixel 7 Pro using Tapatalk

Thanks, Rayna!

I went ahead and filed the petition for name/gender marker change about a week ago.  I'm not likely to make it through the process before the divorce becomes final, so I don't think there will be any issues there.

I filed in Travis county (Austin), so I'm hoping everything goes through easily.  I hear that sending this through my home county is a complete disaster because the judges can be real jerks about it.  I don't know if you have heard, but Texas government agencies aren't exactly "supportive" LOL  ;D.  There are pockets of support, though, so you just have to know how to play the game.



[0] Message Index

Go to full version