What's in a name? Why I decided to change my name after divorce

What’s in a Name? Why I Decided to Change My Name After Divorce

Six months ago I separated from my husband, and one of the (many, many, many) things to enter into upheaval was my surname. To change or not to change, that was the question.

“Will there be a name change?” glared at me from the papers I received from my lawyer. My knee jerk was reaction to the query, “Of course not.” I mean, why would I? Apart from what I assumed would be a mountain of expense and paper work, it didn’t really seem like a big deal. Still, I slept on it. And in the morning I felt completely different and very conflicted. My 23-year-old self had been champing at the bit to change my name when I got married, I was so eager to please. But now at 36, I find myself in limbo.

I no longer want to wear my ex’s last name, nor do I feel like the girl whose maiden name I once bore. I thought briefly I’d just leave it as is, then, if I ever remarried I would change it. I could take another person’s name. Again. But what about my children?  Would they feel strange about still being Gray’s while I wasn’t? Shouldn’t I have the same name as them? What about travelling with kids and different monikers? As you may have noticed, I still struggle with the people-pleasing bit.

So I’m making a decision for me, and whatever will be will be. There are heaps of parents who don different last names than their children, divorced or not. I want a name that will be mine. A name that I am proud to wear, and that I will not change at all, ever again (Zoe Saldana is kind of a hero for me right now). In the end I’ve decided to go with Graham over Gray.  It’s a family name, it sounds enough like my kids’ last name, and I feel like it is a step in the “becoming more me” aspiration that I want to model for my poppets.

What do you think? What did you do?

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Alicia Graham

About Alicia Graham

Alicia Graham is thenewfamily.com’s web editor. She’s a writer, social media maven, mom of two, and she lives in the tiny ski town of Rossland, B.C. You can find her on Twitter as @aggraygate and Instagram as @aggraygate. View all posts by

'What’s in a Name? Why I Decided to Change My Name After Divorce' have 4 comments

  1. June 23, 2015 @ 5:44 pm jean Hewson

    I think this is a very thoughtful decision you have made. I wish I had hyphenated my name, but 40 some years ago that wasn’t really anything I thought about. I like the idea you want to be you and if your last name gives you a clearer identiy go for it!!! I am proud to be who I am but I understand where you are coming from.


    • June 23, 2015 @ 6:01 pm Angela

      It’s such a personal choice! I didn’t change my name right away when I got married because it felt wrong, but I eventually did as a gift to my husband. Changing back after we separated was a cathartic moment – I felt myself again and I will never change it. I totally get not feeling like your old name fits, and I get not carrying around your ex’s either. Well done on choosing the path that feels right for you! Xoxo


      • June 25, 2015 @ 9:00 am Gab

        I definitely went back to my maiden name. My reason being is that my married name belonged to my ex, I’m not married to him so why would I want to continue using his last name. I don’t think I could continue using my married name as it would just be a reminder of that time.


  2. June 24, 2015 @ 9:12 pm Krista

    I got married at 24 and felt that that was what I was supposed to do. However, I never felt comfortable with my married name. It didn’t feel right or fit with my first name. I felt awkward and uncomfortable introducing myself. Even my Dad called me by my maiden name.
    Fours years later we got divorced and one of the first things I did after I moved out was change my name back. I was so happy to have my last name back. I felt like me again.
    Ten years later I still love hearing my last name. It was the name I was born with and the name I will die with. I am an 8th generation from William Marsh and so damn proud!


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