Change your name in your divorce case

If you are getting divorced in California, you can change your name to a former name as part of the divorce process. If your divorce is already final, you can still change your name as part of that case.

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You can change your name as part of your divorce if:

  • Your divorce case is in California
  • You are going back to a former legal name (like your birth name)

You can do this when you finish your divorce (when you finish your divorce) or even years after your divorce was final (after your divorce). 

If your divorce was outside California: Contact the court that ordered your divorce. Find out if they have a simple process for you to change your name in that divorce case even if you no longer live in that state. If not, you may need to start a name change case.
If you don't want to go back to a former name: You will need to start a name change case. You can only go back to a former name in a divorce case.

1. Fill out and turn in forms

The forms to change your name are different depending on if your divorce is final or not.

To finish your divorce, you will turn in a final set of forms for the judge to review. You can ask to change your name in these forms by checking the boxes on 

  • Item #12 of the Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation (form FL-170) 

  • Item #4(f) of the Judgment (form FL-180), and write in the name, including the first, middle, and last name that you want to return to. 

Then, once a judge signs the Judgment, the Judgment is your legal proof that you changed your name. 

Learn about the divorce process

  1. Get case information. You will need the case number and name, and county where it was filed, to fill out your request.
  2. Fill out Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (form FL-395). This asks the court to change your name back to a former name.
  3. Make one copy of the form.
  4. Self-address an envelope and add postage unless you want to come back to court to pick it up.
  5. Turn in or mail in your form to the court where your divorce case was filed with the appropriate fee, if one is required by your court. Give the clerk your self-addressed envelope unless you plan to come back to pick it up. The clerk will give the form to a judge to review and sign. Processing times can vary.
If these are the first papers you've ever filed in your divorce case, it's possible there may be a fee ($435 - $450). You will need to pay this fee when you turn in your forms. If you can't afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver.
If you already paid the fee in your divorce case, then there may not be an additional fee. Check with your court clerk.

​​​Once your form FL-395 is signed by a judge, a clerk will mail back the signed form back to you. This is your proof of your name change.

2. Get certified copy of signed forms

Once the judge signs your form FL-395 or FL-180, you may want to get a certified copy to use to update your IDs.

Many government agencies (like the Social Security Administration or Department of Motor Vehicles) will ask for a certified copy to change your name in their records.

If you do need a certified copy, ask the court clerk to certify a copy for you. Depending on how many legal ID documents you want to update, you can ask for more than one certified copy.

The current fee is $40 fee for a certified copy. If you cannot afford the fee, you can request a fee waiver. 

Your records are not updated automatically with your new name. 

You must share a certified copy of Form FL-395 or FL-180 showing your new name with each government agency where you need to update your ID or record.
 

Learn how to contact each agency where you might need to update your records

Get more information