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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Changing Your Name after a Virginia Divorce


If you are preparing for a divorce or are in the process of getting one, the idea of getting your old name back can feel like regaining your identity. You can make the request for a name change during your divorce or you can file a separate petition down the line if you decide to change your name later on.

In most cases, the final divorce decree will grant permission to go back to your maiden or former name. You will need to file the paperwork for the name change alongside your final divorce decree and other related documents. You may be responsible for a nominal filing fee for changing your name. If you opt to wait and do a separate petition, you will need to file the paperwork for the name change and possibly attend an in-person hearing to get the judge to grant the petition.

What to Have Your Name Changed On

Once you have the approval to restore your maiden or former name, the tedious process of applying to have your name changed everywhere begins. Start with the most important documents like your driver’s license and social security number.

You will need to have the proper documentation for each government agency or company that you contact for a name change. In most cases for the DMV and Social Security, you will need a certified copy of your divorce decree along with a birth certificate and a photo identification card like your existing driver’s license, passport, or state identification card.

Additional items you need to think about for a name change include:

  • Utilities
  • Vehicle registration
  • Credit cards
  • Bank accounts
  • Mortgage and property titles
  • Employment documentation
  • Retirement accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Memberships
  • Business documents
  • Subscriptions

If you have a passport, take special consideration about when to get your new one. You could run into issues if you book a ticket under one name, but your passport is under another. For example, if you booked a flight under your married name before the divorce was finalized and immediately apply for a new passport, you may be denied boarding on your flight because the names do not match. If you opt to book the airline ticket in your former name assuming the name change will be complete ahead of time, you may also run into problems if there are any delays. It is likely best if you avoid booking any international travel until you are sure of the timeline in which your name change will be completed.

It’s important to look into the various agencies’ requirements regarding name changes and what documentation is required. For example, with Social Security, you may be able to send in your request and certified documentation by mail rather than making an appointment to go in person. If you are missing your birth certificate, some agencies may allow a hospital record to suffice as proof of age. Also, there may be specific timeframes you need to follow to ensure you don’t miss a deadline.

Retaining a Virginia Divorce Attorney

If you are preparing to file for a divorce or have been served with divorce paperwork, it’s important to retain a skilled Virginia divorce attorney. The team at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC has decades of experience with all areas of family law, including divorce and name change petitions. Contact our office at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.

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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!