Name Change After a Divorce

I recently read an article in the New York Times entitled "When the New You Carries a Fresh Identity, Too" written by Megan L. Wood that raised interesting questions about divorcing women and a name change after a divorce. The article brought up the fact that many divorcing women are at a crossroads of their life where the divorce gives them a chance to have a fresh identity by choosing a new last name. As the article recognizes, "[h]anging on to your ex's last name can daily conjure an unhappy past, while going back to a maiden name [they]'ve outgrown can be difficult to imagine." The solution, for some, is selecting another, neutral name.

If women are choosing a new last name rather than their maiden name, should such an option be included on the Massachusetts form Complaint for Divorce? The form Complaint for Divorce currently provides a divorcing woman an option to ask the court to "allow plaintiff to resume former name." But what if she does not want to go back to her maiden name, yet does not want to keep her married name? A divorcing woman would either need to file additional paperwork called a petition to change name with an additional filing fee, or perhaps could make a request on a blank line within the form Complaint for Divorce. Should Massachusetts allow a broader option for a name change after a divorce?

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