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A common query asked of family lawyers is whether a client must wait until they are divorced before they can revert to using their maiden name.

The legal position is that a party who has separated but is not yet divorced can revert to using their maiden name before the divorce is finalised. The process that must be followed will depend upon where the parties married and whether the marriage was registered in Australia.

If married in Australia

If you are seeking to revert to using your maiden name, you must present originals or certified copies of your marriage and birth certificates to any Government department or organisation where your surname is registered.

This might include Service SA, Medicare, the Australian Passport Office and financial institutions.

It is typical for each department or organisation to require a form to be completed, confirming that you wish to revert back to using your maiden name. A fee may also be payable to each department or organisation to register the change.

If married outside of Australia

If you were married outside of Australia, the marriage would not have been registered in Australia. More information about this can be found on the Attorney-General’s department website here.

There is a chance that following your marriage, the non-Australian issued marriage certificate would not have been accepted as evidence of your right to take your spouse’s name. To overcome this issue, a change of name may have been registered with Consumer and Business Services in South Australia (‘CBS’). More information about this process can be found here.

If you have previously changed your name through the CBS process and are now seeking to revert to your maiden name, you might find that some organisations and departments will not allow you to do so, simply by supplying your overseas marriage certificate and birth certificate: If this occurs, you must complete and lodge another change of name form with CBS to change from your married name back to your maiden name (or to any other chosen surname, for that matter). It is important to be aware that CBS can accept one name change every 12 months and under current South Australian law, an individual can only change their name three times over their lifetime.

You can then visit the relevant organisations and departments with original or certified copies of your name change, marriage and birth certificate. You should be able to change your name upon completing the relevant paperwork and payment of any applicable fees.

If you have separated or divorced and are seeking to change back to your maiden name, please contact one of our experienced family lawyers at Mellor Olsson who can assist you with this process.