Do I Have To Change My Name After A Divorce?

Following a divorce, the former wife is not required to change her name if she doesn’t wish to do so; this is a matter of personal preference. In most divorce settlements and decrees, the order will state that the wife may return to her maiden name if she so desires. Sometimes an ex-wife will choose to maintain her ex-husband’s last name because they have children together and the children have the husband’s last name; many people find it important to maintain the last name of their children. In some cases, ex-husbands will want to force the ex-wife to change their name, but they cannot. Anyone can file a separate action for a name change, but everyone realizes that they can change their name at the end of a divorce. I’ve never actually seen anyone go through the effort of filing a separate case just to change their name during a pending divorce, likely because this wouldn’t make financial sense.

Which Parent Can Claim The Children As Dependents?

In some states, the custodial parent always claims the tax credit associated with claiming the children as dependents. In the state of Utah, however, there is no hard and fast rule that affords the custodial parent that right. Instead, the courts typically rotate or equally divide who gets the tax credit. One typical example of a tax credit order would be this:

“Each party is entitled to claim two of the children for tax purposes each year. When three children remain, one party will claim two children, and the other party will claim one child during alternating years, with petitioner claiming two children in even numbered years, and respondent claiming two children in odd numbered years. When two children remain, the parties will each claim one child each year. When one child remains, the parties will alternate claiming the child each year with petitioner claiming the child in even years. If either party will not receive a benefit from claiming their child’s tax deduction during any given year, the tax credit will be awarded to the other party for that year. The child support obligor may not claim the child for tax purposes in any given year if he or she is not current on their child support obligation by the last day of that tax year.”

Parties will sometimes agree that one or the other party may “buy out” the other party’s child tax credit by bringing the other party to a “tax neutral basis.” For example, if the party entitled under the decree to claim the child would receive a $1,000 tax benefit for claiming the child and the other party would receive a $3,000 tax benefit for claiming the child, then the other party may pay $1,000 to the first party and then claim the child on his or her taxes, even though it wouldn’t technically be their year to do so. This “tax neutral” process requires the parties to cooperate in exchanging tax information to determine how much of a benefit they would receive for claiming a child tax credit in any given year.

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*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children