Name Change After Divorce in Kansas

We’ve recently had a lot of questions about how someone who finalized their divorce months – or years – ago can regain their “maiden” or “former” name if the final order (the “degree”) in their divorce, annulment, or separate maintenance (“legal separation”) action did not make that change. The issue comes up in a few different ways:

–The person wishing to have a name change (usually the wife) filed the petition, but didn’t think of asking for a name change at the final hearing.

–The person wanting the name change did not want a name change when the divorce was granted (because there were young children or others who might be confused by the change or it wasn’t a priority at the time), but now wants restored to the former or maiden name.

–The person wanting the name change was the “respondent” (non-filing party) in the divorce, annulment, or separate maintenance and didn’t ask for a name change.

–The person wishing to have a name change was the “respondent” (non-filing party) in the divorce, annulment, or separate maintenance case and didn’t respond to the petition indicating a desire to be restored to a former or maiden name.

–For whatever other reason the final orders did not make the name change.

Kansas law provides a fast, simple procedure to obtain the name change.
K.S.A. 23-2715 (2011) provides that:
Upon the request of a spouse, the court shall order the restoration of that spouse’s maiden or former name. The court shall have jurisdiction to restore the spouse’s maiden or former name at or after the time the decree of divorce becomes final. The judicial council shall develop a form which is simple, concise and direct for use with this paragraph.
Although many people think that they can ask the judge to “correct” their divorce decree by submitting an “amendment” or “correcting order” (known as a nunc pro tunc order). But if the name change request was not made at the final hearing, the judge cannot file a “correcting order.” A “correcting order” is only appropriately entered if the court actually did or actually made the order at the time of the previous hearing. “Nunc pro tunc” literally means “now for then.” So the court can now only enter an order of what it actually did then, not do now what it should have done then.

A judge cannot sign a “correcting order” to the divorce decree if the name change was not requested at the time of the divorce hearing. So if you did not appear and the request was not made, you cannot now ask that the decree reflect something that wasn’t requested at the hearing.
As noted by the statute, the Kansas Judicial Council was directed to create a form affidavit to assist in the name change procedure. That form can be accessed either at the Kansas Judicial Council website (http://www.kansasjudicialcouncil.org/Forms/Misc… (look at K.S.A. 60-1610(c) forms) or on this page.

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