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What’s in a Name?

Volume 4

Since my last post on this subject, in the 2017 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed into law an update to existing law on restoration to a former name in a divorce.  HB793:  Family Law – Divorce – Restoration of Former Name revises Family Law Article §7-105, to allow a party to request restoration of a former name up to 18 months after the Judgment of Absolute Divorce/divorce decree is granted, without requiring the formal name change process of Maryland Rule 15-901. 

Currently, a spouse who took on the other party’s name during the marriage may be restored to any former name if the party no longer wishes to use the name, the name change is requested in the divorce, and the request is not for any illegal, fraudulent, or immoral purpose.  Under existing law, this request must be made and granted at the time of the divorce and entry of the Judgment of Absolute divorce; not after. 

HB793 extends the time to 18 months from the date of the divorce.  Under current and the new law, the request must be made by the party seeking the name change for her- or himself.  So, one spouse may not request a name change for the other.  The remaining requirements of §7-105 will still apply.

This change in the law goes into effect October 1, 2017.

Lindsay Parvis is a Partner at Dragga, Hannon, Hessler & Wills, LLP.  She represents parties in contested and uncontested divorce and other family law matters.

2017 Maryland Family Law Legislative Update

The 2017 legislative session saw the introduction of relatively few family law bills, but with a surprising number passing (especially as compared with 2016).  Subject to veto by the Governor until May 30 (which is not anticipated), the following bills were passed into law and go into effect October 1, 2017:

Divorce:

HB793:  Family Law – Divorce – Restoration of Former Name revises Family Law Article §7-105  to allow a party to request restoration of a former name up to 18 months after the Judgment of Absolute Divorce/divorce decree is granted, without requiring the formal name change process of Maryland Rule 15-901.  Currently, a spouse who took on the other party’s name during the marriage may be restored to any former name if the party no longer wishes to use the name, the name change is requested in the divorce, and the request is not for any illegal, fraudulent, or immoral purpose.  Under existing law, this request must be made and granted at the time of the divorce and entry of the Judgment of Absolute divorce; not after.  HB793 merely extends the time to 18 months from the date of the divorce.  Under current and the new law, the request must be made by the party seeking the name change for her- or himself.  One spouse may not request a name change for the other spouse.  For more information about name changes, please see my other posts:  What’s in a Name, Volume 1 and Volume 2.

What’s in a Name?

Volume 3

The 2016 Maryland General Assembly session ended on April 11, 2016 and with it ended House Bill 1183 – Family Law – Divorce – Restoration of Former Name. Although it passed the House with amendments, it died in Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. As amended, HB1183 would have allowed a person to seek restoration to his/her former name upon request within 18 months after the divorce is granted. Perhaps HB1183 will be reintroduced in the 2017 Session with more momentum.

Under current law (Family Law Article §7-105), the court shall restore a spouse to his/her birth name or any former name the party wishes to use at the time of the divorce. So, the request for restoration to a birth or former name must be made before or at the divorce hearing and granted at the time of the divorce – not after. A person wishing to change his/her name after the divorce will still be required to go through a
formal name change. Please see Volume 1 and Volume 2 for more discussion.

By: Lindsay Parvis

What’s in a name?

Volume 1

If requested in a divorce, a spouse will be restored to his or her given birth name or any other former name the party wishes to use.  This name restoration cannot be stopped by the ex-spouse, nor can an ex-spouse require it of the other.  There are two conditions that must be met:

1)  the current name was taken upon the marriage at issue and the party no long wishes to use it; and,

2) the request for restoration to a former name is not for any fraudulent, immoral, or illegal purpose.

The request can be made in a complaint or counterclaim, in an answer, or in person at the divorce hearing or trial.  It is a formal name change, which will allows the party to update his or her driver’s license, social security card, and accounts with a copy of the judgment of absolute divorce stating the restored name.  This does not, however, allow a party to take an entirely new name.

This process is streamlined when compared with going through a separate action to change one’s name.  This streamlined process is only available when a divorce is granted and must occur at the time of the divorce.  If not, a party will need to file a separate petition for name change in order to change his or her name afterward.

The decision to resume one’s former name – or not – at the time of the divorce is a personal one.  It can be influenced by attachment to the married versus family names, children with the same last name, among other reasons.  Fortunately, if one does not resume a former name at the divorce, one can do so after the fact, although more steps, time, and expense are involved.

Continue to Volume 2 of What's in a Name?

By: P. Lindsay Parvis

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