2012: How Can You Change Your Name Pursuant To A Divorce Decree Or Nullity in San Diego Superior Court?

In a divorce in San Diego Superior Court, there is a procedure to have a former name or a birth name restored in the entry of judgment for a nullity or divorce decree. Even if the birth name or former name is not restored in the entry of judgment, a request can be made post judgment for this relief. The request needs to be made in the same court house in San Diego as where the judgment was entered. While San Diego County is the same county throughout, there are five court houses where divorce and nullity cases are heard: Vista court house in North San Diego County; Chula Vista in South San Diego County; El Cajon court house in East San Diego County and the two downtown San Diego court houses located in the main family law court house on 6th Avenue and the Madge Bradley court house located on 4th Avenue. This name change law does not apply to legal separation or paternity. A legal separation also results in a judgment but the judgment does not terminate the legal status so the two parties are still married. A paternity case is one in which the mother and father are not married at the time of birth or conception and will also lead to a judgment of paternity but this does not include a name change and only legal and physical custody of a child or children and child support orders in most cases.

In a divorce or nullity, the San Diego Superior Court Judge shall restore either the birth name or former name upon application whether or not this was requested in the original petition. In a petition for divorce or nullity, there is a box to check whether the party would like to have their former name restored. In many cases, this box is not checked but this does not preclude the Court from granting this request.

In the law, there is still some gender bias as this is normally referred to as restoration of the “wife’s name” and not the husband. In some cases, the husband and wife now hyphenate their names as some parents do in paternity cases. In some cases, the husband will take the wife’s name. Notwithstanding the reference to the “wife’s name”, a husband can also request this relief for restoration to his former name or birth name. This can be included in the Judgment for Dissolution so that the Judgment can be used for name change for legal purposes: social security; drivers license; passport; etc. While placing the name change information into the marriage settlement agreement is done, this is not considered a Judgment for the name change.

The Court can only deny the motion for the name change due to fraud and not due to any other reason according to the California Family Law Code. It is worth mentioning that any person can file an application for a name change and, in San Diego County, this is done in the civil division and not in the family law division. This would include legal separation as well as paternity cases.

If you would like to change your name, either in your pending divorce or nullity, please feel free to contact us for a complimentary consultation.

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