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How Do I Change My Name After a Divorce in SC?

How Do I Change My Name After a Divorce in SC?
Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

How do I change my name after a divorce in SC?

Just as it is a common practice for women to adopt their spouse’s surname after marriage (or, in some cases, men), it is also a common practice for women to resume their maiden name after a divorce – it is not automatic, however.

In this article, we will discuss how to legally change your name in South Carolina, including:

  • How to change my name after a divorce,
  • How to change my child’s name after a divorce, and
  • How to change my name or my child’s name when there are no divorce proceedings.

How Do I Change My Name After a Divorce in SC?

It is common for women to take their husband’s last name after marriage, ensuring that the family shares a common surname.

When a marriage ends, however, keeping your husband’s name can be an ever-present, painful reminder of the unsuccessful marriage. For many people, resuming their maiden name after a divorce may be essential to moving on.

The easiest way to make this happen after a divorce is to request the change during the divorce proceedings.

SC Code § 20-3-180 says, “[t]he court, upon the granting of final judgment of divorce or an order of separate maintenance, may allow a party to resume a former surname or the surname of a former spouse.”

Many of the requirements outside of divorce proceedings are waived when a litigant in the family court makes the request as part of their family court case – for a marriage or divorce – making the process much simpler for a divorcee who wishes to resume their maiden name.

For example, SC Code § 15-49-20(A), which lists the documentation that an applicant must provide to the court, says that “[t]his subsection does not apply to…. a person seeking to return to the person’s maiden name or a former married name in an action for divorce, or to a person seeking to change his or her name as a result of the person’s marriage.”

Although the process is streamlined for a divorcee, there are still some things the person must do. For example, they must:

  • Notify the Social Security Office,
  • Update their driver’s license with the DMV, and
  • Notify creditors including banks, utilities, or credit card companies.

Can the family court order a name change in other types of proceedings?

SC Code § 15-49-10(J) authorizes the family court to order the change as part of any domestic action filed in family court, which could include:

  • A final divorce decree,
  • An order for separate support or maintenance, or
  • Adoption proceedings.

Can I Change My Child’s Name After a Divorce in SC?

The family court can also change a child’s surname as part of the divorce proceedings if it is in the child’s best interest.

SC Code § 15-49-10(B) says that a parent can petition the family court to change the name of their minor child, and:

  1. The other parent must be named as a party in the action (or the child if there is no other parent),
  2. A guardian ad litem must be appointed to represent the child, and
  3. The court will grant the petition if it is in the best interest of the child.

As with an adult’s request during their divorce proceedings, many of the additional requirements of SC Code § 15-49-20 are waived when the request is made as part of the family court proceedings, and SC Code § 15-49-20(A) says that “[t]his subsection does not apply to a minor child when the parent is seeking a name change for the minor child pursuant to Section 15-49-10(B).”

What if the other parent objects?

In most cases, it is in the child’s best interest to have the same name as the family with whom they live, which means the parent with primary custody should be able to change their child’s name to match their own name.

However, if the other parent can show that it is not in the child’s best interest, the court may deny the request.

Can I Change My Name in South Carolina When There is No Divorce?

To petition the family court for a name change outside of divorce proceedings, the person must:

  • Petition the family court,
  • Have been a resident of SC for at least six months,
  • State the reason for the name change, and
  • Provide their age, place of residence and birth, and new name.

In addition, if the person is not making the request as part of their divorce proceedings, they must provide to the court:

  • A SLED fingerprint and background check,
  • A screening statement from DSS indicating whether the person is listed in the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect,
  • An affidavit stating whether the petitioner is under a court order to pay alimony or child support,
  • A screening statement from SLED indicating whether the person is on the sex offender registry, and
  • An affidavit stating the person has been a resident of South Carolina for at least six months and proof of residency.

Exceptions to the Residency Requirement

The six-month residency requirement can be waived if the petitioner is “currently in reasonable fear of the petitioner’s safety” or if they are “a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, harassment, sexual offenses, trafficking in persons, or other abuse.”

Can the Court Seal the File?

The family court must “seal the file if the court finds that the safety of the petitioner seeking the name change or the safety of the petitioner’s child or ward warrants sealing the file.”

Got Axelrod?

If you are considering separation or divorce, or if you are considering a name change for yourself or your child, contact your SC family law attorney immediately. Your SC name change lawyer on the Axelrod team can help you to change your name or your child’s name as part of your divorce proceedings, or we can help you to change your name or your child’s name when there are no divorce proceedings.

Call Axelrod and Associates now at 843-258-4478 or send us a message through our website to find out how we can help.

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