In a Georgia divorce action, “a party may pray in his pleadings for the restoration of a maiden or prior name.” OCGA §19-5-16. Once the divorce is granted, “the judgment or decree shall specify and restore to the party the name so prayed for in the pleadings.” Id. Thus, if a wife wants to change her name back to her maiden name, all she has to do is request the change in her Complaint for Divorce (or Answer and Counterclaim for Divorce), and her name will be changed in the Final Decree of Divorce. She can then take this Court Order to the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security Office, or passport office to have her name changed on the appropriate documents.
If the party fails to request the name change in the divorce pleadings, and the divorce is granted without name change, the party must then file a separate Petition for Name Change in the Superior Court. OCGA §19-12-1.
If the party in the divorce action desiring the name change has children, this does not affect whether the name change will be granted. However, that party may want to think hard about whether she wants her name to be different than that of her children. It should be noted that a child’s name cannot be changed as part of the divorce action but, rather, a request for change must be made in a different action. Thus, if desired, this must be done at a different time and the other parent must consent. OCGA §19-12-1. This process is, therefore, not as straightforward as that of a name change incident to a divorce.