Can You Force Your Ex To Change Their Last Name?

It's common for married people to change their last names after getting married. It's also very common for those same people to keep their exes' last name after getting divorced. Although you may not like the fact your ex has kept your name after separating from you, you cannot legally force the person to stop using it. However, here are two things you can do that may convince your ex to go back to their maiden name.

Offer a Bribe

There are a number of reasons why people keep their exes' names after divorce, but the most common issue is that it's inconvenient to make the change. Not only is going through the court process a pain, but the person has to make the change with every government agency and private company they interact with. For example, your ex will have to change their name on their Social Security card to ensure they receive their benefits in the future.

One thing you can do to convince your ex to make the change is to compensate them for the trouble they'll go through to do it. For instance, you can offer them more money in the divorce settlement or an asset you own that they really want. If the offer is good enough, your ex may sacrifice their own preference and accept the deal.

However, it's a good idea to put the money or property in escrow or a trust that'll only be released to your ex once they have make the requisite change. This will prevent your ex from dragging their feet and taking longer than necessary to submit the required paper work and keep you from losing money if your ex changes their mind at a later date.

Additionally, make sure the agreement is part of the divorce decree, so you'll have even more leverage if you have to take your ex to court to force the issue.

Ask for a Hyphenated Version

If your ex is keeping your last name for an understandable reason (e.g. to remain consistent with the children), then a compromise may be in order. Instead of demanding your ex change their name completely, ask them to use a hyphenated version. This will let them match the kids (or maintain any branding associated with the name if they're using it for professional reasons) while also being different enough from your name that you won't have to worry about people getting confused about the state of your relationship.

For more information about this issue or help negotiating the term of your divorce with your ex, contact a divorce mediator like Kent R. Stevens.