Can My Wife Keep My Last Name?

Serving Families Throughout Palm Beach Gardens

What’s in a name? The answer to that question may not seem so rhetorical when it comes to divorce. Your family has worked hard through multiple generations to establish themselves in the West Palm Beach area, and now your reputation positively precedes you. When you married your wife, she took your last name. Now she wants a divorce, but she wants to keep your last name. Can she have it both ways?

As it turns out, it is legal for your wife to keep your last name after a divorce. While it may seem awkward or unmerited for someone whom you may have a sour relationship with to have your last name, there are legitimate reasons for women to keep it. Although your last name may carry its own reputation, so does divorce.

Keeping a name helps avoid the unwanted intangibles

After going through a divorce, ex-spouses often claim they feel a social stigma associated with their split, especially when kids are involved. By helping your ex-wife avoid this stigma, you may help yourself too. For example, raising kids is still a team effort between you and your ex after divorce. To stay focused on the team, some women may keep their spouse’s last name.

In addition to the social stigma, women are often more vulnerable to financial stress after divorce. For this reason, you may be required to pay spousal support as your ex-wife establishes a life on her own. After several years of marriage, her name is now part of her professional identity which will carry the success of her career and economic well-being after divorce.

Remember, she may not keep your name forever

If your wife chooses to keep your last name, it will likely be part of the divorce decree. Signing the decree is part of the process of finalizing divorce, but the terms of it could change in the future. After the kids have grown up and moved out, your ex-wife may choose to go by her maiden name again, or she may hyphenate her last name. She could also remarry and take on the last name of her next husband.

Making arrangements for asset division and child custody are the most contentious battles for wealthy couples going through a divorce. Most couples have to rely on a few compromises to make it through the process. Allowing your ex-wife to keep your last name can be one way to both provide support and ease the stigma after the split.

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John Schutz

John Schutz

Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.

Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.

John Schutz

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