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So what happens if you use an incorrect name, you might ask?   It’s still you.

Well, if nobody objects legally during your case, it is possible that the court will not discover any discrepancy. You would get your divorce in whatever name you’ve given. It would not necessarily be an invalid divorce, unless there’s also some fraud involved and that fraud somehow comes to light, but it would certainly be a pain in the neck for you to get a divorce in an incorrect name.

It would be like having your driver’s license in one name and your car registration in another. Or having an insurance policy in an incorrect name. You’d constantly have to explain and argue and show proof to every bureaucrat you meet.

If there is a legal objection to the correctness of the name you’ve used, that objection would almost certainly come from your spouse/partner after s/he sees your divorce papers. Then, as with any other divorce dispute, you and your spouse/partner would either have to come to an agreement on what your correct name is and proceed or fail to reach an agreement on what your correct legal name is and have to hire lawyers. If you and your spouse/partner agree that your legal name is NOT what you have told, then in order to proceed, you’d have to prepare and file an Amended Petition in your case – in order to correct your name before proceeding.

Our advice is that your name is such an easy thing to get right, that you should not take any chances. If in any doubt, check with a lawyer before proceeding.

WHAT IS YOUR LEGAL NAME?

Your legal name is the name you use consistently, such as on legal documents like employment records, bank records, tax returns, driver’s license, property registration documents, school records, military records, etc. The name you use consistently on all of those documents is your legal name and should be used here (on your divorce documents).

Your legal name does not have to be your full birth name. You may have changed it by consistent usage. An example of this is that your birth certificate may say, “John Quincy Public,” but your legal name has become, “John Q. Public” by consistent usage as such on legal documents.

Your legal name should not be a nickname or stage name, unless you use that name consistently on the above-listed documents.

What if you look at the above-listed documents and find that you cannot determine what is your legal name because you use one name (perhaps a married name or an abbreviated first name) on some documents and another (perhaps a maiden name) on others? That is a problem. There are few laws that govern what is your name, but one of them is that you must be consistent. You can be called anything you want (with very few exceptions) but you must be consistent.

If you cannot determine what is your full legal name, you should definitely consult a lawyer to review the facts and provide you advice on what your legal name is before proceeding . A lawyer may even advise you to use two names – with one being an “Also Known As” (AKA).

Fortunately, the vast majority of people have no difficulty in determining what their legal name is.