Advice for a woman getting divorced

If you’re divorced and you want to revert to your birth name, you may not need a deed poll. As proof of your change of name, you can show:

  • your divorce documents (if you have been divorced in the U.K., your decree absolute)
  • your original marriage certificate
  • your original birth certificate
  • a signed statement confirming that you have reverted to your maiden name for all purposes

Divorce documents are not normally acceptable on their own as evidence of a change of name. This is because divorce documents issued in England and Wales from 1971 no longer show the link between your married name and your maiden name.

If your divorce document does show both your married name and your maiden name, it may be accepted on its own (that is, without your marriage certificate) — provided that it clearly shows the link between your married name and your maiden name.

If you haven’t got a copy of one of the required documents, or you haven’t yet received your decree absolute, then you can change your name by deed poll — you don’t have to wait until your divorce is finalised.

Bear in mind that although some organisations (such as the DVLA) will accept a decree nisi instead of a decree absolute, HM Passport Office will only accept a decree absolute.

If you want to revert to a name that was not your birth name, then you will need a deed poll as proof of your name change.

To change only your title (e.g. from Mrs to Miss or Ms), there’s no need for a deed poll — see the section on how to change your title.

Changing your name by deed poll

You’ll need a deed poll to change your name if:

  • you haven’t got divorced, or you’re still in the process of getting divorced
  • you’ve got your decree nisi, but you haven’t got your decree absolute yet
  • you’ve lost your divorce documents
  • you haven’t got an (original) marriage certificate (bear in mind that the court that handled your divorce will normally have kept a copy of your marriage certificate)
  • you haven’t got an (original) birth certificate

Legally speaking, it doesn’t make any difference whether you use your divorce documents or a deed poll to change your name. Either way, it’s not the document itself that changes your name, it’s just evidence of the fact that your name’s been changed — legally, your name is changed by usage.

I’ve lost my decree absolute, where can I get a copy?

You can get a copy of your decree absolute (or divorce decree in Scotland) from the court that originally issued it.

You can look up the court’s contact details by using the relevant court finder:

If your decree absolute was issued in England & Wales, it will cost £5 for a copy of the decree absolute if you know the case number, or £40 if you don’t know the case number.

If you can’t remember which court issued your decree absolute, you can ask the Principal Registry of the Family Division to search for it. This will cost £60. You’ll need to fill in the form D440: Request for search for Decree Absolute ↗, and send it with your payment to —

  • Principal Registry of the Family Division
  • First Avenue House
  • 42–49 High Holborn
  • London
  • WC1V 6NP

If your decree absolute was issued in Scotland, it will cost £21 for a copy of the divorce decree, including the search fee. You’ll need to apply in writing, and you should provide as much detail as you can, for example the name of parties, the date of divorce, and the date and place of marriage.

If your decree absolute was issued in Northern Ireland, it will cost £10 for a copy of the decree absolute if you know the case number. If you don’t know the case number you’ll have to search for it using the online service (ICOS) ↗. It will cost £20 to do a search, and you’ll need to set up an account first ↗.

I’ve lost my marriage / birth certificate, where can I get a copy?

For births and marriages registered in England & Wales, you can get replacement certificates from the General Register Office ↗. Each certificate you order will cost £9.25, and you can apply online, by registering on the GRO website.

If you were born or married in Scotland, you can get replacement certificates from the General Register Office for Scotland ↗. Each certificate you order will cost £15, and you’ll need to fill in the form SU3 ↗ and send it with your payment to —

  • General Register Office
  • New Register House
  • 3 West Register Street
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 3YT

(For more details, see the leaflet S3: How to obtain an official extract from our records ↗.)

For births or marriages registered in Northern Ireland, you can get replacement certificates from the General Register Office Northern Ireland ↗. Each certificate you order will cost £15, and you can make the application online.