If you want to resume your maiden name, the quickest, easiest, and most cost-effective way to do it is by asking for it in your complaint. Your complaint is the document that you file with the court to initiate your divorce. In it, you provide the court with the details of the marriage, including the date your married, the date you separated, and the names and dates of birth of any children born or adopted during the marriage. You’ll also give the court your specific grounds (fault or no fault), and ask the court for relief. If you’ve signed a separation agreement, you’ll just ask that the court affirm, ratify, and incorporate your separation agreement into your final decree, and if you haven’t signed a separation agreement, you’ll ask that the court award you everything (equitable distribution, child support, spousal support, custody, etc). You’ll also ask for your name change here.
The court won’t formally change your name until your final decree is entered and, at that time, you will also present the court with a name change affidavit. Your attorney can help you with this or, if you’re representing yourself, you can find forms online. You can also call your circuit court to ask whether they have a specific form that you should use. I know that the Norfolk Circuit Court has hard copies of forms that you can use as well. Some courts don’t accept any handwritten orders, so make sure you know before you go whether you’ll need to make sure that your order is typed.
There is a fee for filing a name change order with the court. The amount of the fee varies depending on the particular court, but you can call ahead of time and ask what it costs to be sure that you have enough money to cover costs when you file it. In Virginia Beach, for example, you have to have all your forms filled out and submitted to the court ahead of time. In Norfolk, on the other hand, you present your order to the judge on the day of your hearing, and you pay the clerk for your name change order at that time. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; this is one of those areas that varies a lot from court to court, and the clerks won’t think you’re stupid for not knowing the answers ahead of time.
You’ll definitely want to make sure you get your name change order entered with your Final Divorce Decree, because otherwise changing your name will be a much more complicated and expensive procedure.