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Old 26.01.2020, 21:35
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Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

Hello EF,

This is call for advice, as I can't seem to determine the best course of action to reclaim my maiden name following my recent divorce here in Zurich (I was married in the US; I'm a US citizen and will continue living in Zurich for the foreseeable future). Despite my research, I can't seem to figure out what the process should be.

Should I, for example, begin the process in Zurich and:
1. Bring my divorce papers to the Zivilstand in Zurich and ask to change my name
2. Get a new Ausweis
2. Bring these papers back to a NY court (where these papers and cards will make no sense) to get my name changed there, so that I can then get a new Social Security card, etc., and then get a new passport

OR
should I go the other route and begin the process in the US:
1. Petition for a name change in NY
2. Following the issuance of a name change, apply for a new Social Security card, followed by a passport
3. Meanwhile, go to the Zivilstand and begin the process to change my name here in Züri (Zivilstand, Ausweiss, etc.)

Any advice will be most appreciated! I'm hoping to get this done as cheaply as possible—I need a hiatus from lawyers following my divorce :-)

Thank you!
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Old 27.01.2020, 13:59
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

According the Swiss IPGR https://www.admin.ch/opc/de/classifi...index.html#a37
you must start the name change process here.

After that you can get a new U.S. social security card.
https://faq.ssa.gov/en-US/Topic/article/KA-01981
and apply for an new U.S. passport either using Form DS-82 or Form DS-5504 if the passport was issued less than 12 months ago.
https://ch.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen...dult-passport/

The U.S. might have an other view on this and might mandate that you start the name change from the U.S.
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Old 27.01.2020, 14:05
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

Normally in Switzerland a divorce results in the reversion back to your maiden name unless requested otherwise (and with good reason).

Tom
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Old 27.01.2020, 14:10
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

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Normally in Switzerland a divorce results in the reversion back to your maiden name unless requested otherwise
Actually, if we have a look into the actual law we see that it is exactly the other way round:

Art. 119 Swiss Civil Code https://www.admin.ch/opc/de/classifi...ndex.html#a119
Quote:
A spouse who has changed his or her surname on marriage retains that surname following divorce; he or she may at any time declare before the civil registrar the wish to revert to the name by which he or she was known prior to the marriage.
Note: The German version says "maiden name" instead of "name prior to the marriage"
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Old 27.01.2020, 14:11
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

They must have changed the law in the past 20 years (not surprising).

Tom
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Old 27.01.2020, 14:13
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

Just change the name in the home country and ask for the permit to be updated. This worked for me (though it was not following a divorce of my own). The article quoted mentions that a foreigner resident in CH can do just this.
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Old 04.02.2020, 07:37
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

Thanks, everyone. I spoke with someone at the Zivilstandsamt and at the Migration Office, and it seems they are unable to change my name here because I was married in the US and do not have a Familienausweis. So, it appears I need to go back to the US to change my name. I am also going to attempt going to the Passport Office in New York with my Swiss divorce decree to see if they will accept that (my maiden name is listed on the divorce decree, although the decree says nothing about changing my name). If they require a court order in addition, I'll have to petition the court in NY for a name change, although I would like to avoid that extra cost following what I paid to get divorced here!

And for others in a similar situation who are here with a different permit and are allowed to change their name, indeed, it is only after the divorce proceedings that you can change it by bringing the decree to the Zivilstandsamt.

Fingers crossed that I return from the US with my "real" name. I'll update here so that anyone else searching for this info has an easier time of figuring out the process than I did!
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Old 04.02.2020, 20:52
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

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Thanks, everyone. I spoke with someone at the Zivilstandsamt and at the Migration Office, and it seems they are unable to change my name here because I was married in the US and do not have a Familienausweis. So, it appears I need to go back to the US to change my name. I am also going to attempt going to the Passport Office in New York with my Swiss divorce decree to see if they will accept that (my maiden name is listed on the divorce decree, although the decree says nothing about changing my name). If they require a court order in addition, I'll have to petition the court in NY for a name change, although I would like to avoid that extra cost following what I paid to get divorced here!

And for others in a similar situation who are here with a different permit and are allowed to change their name, indeed, it is only after the divorce proceedings that you can change it by bringing the decree to the Zivilstandsamt.

Fingers crossed that I return from the US with my "real" name. I'll update here so that anyone else searching for this info has an easier time of figuring out the process than I did!
Why would you need to physically go to the U.S.? I realize it was a few years ago, but I changed my name the other way (upon getting married) and I handled all of it from here in Switzerland with the help of the Embassy.
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Old 04.02.2020, 23:20
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

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Why would you need to physically go to the U.S.? I realize it was a few years ago, but I changed my name the other way (upon getting married) and I handled all of it from here in Switzerland with the help of the Embassy.
Because I need a US court order or a divorce decree that states that my name has changed (which my divorce decree does not—this needs to be done at the Zivilstadtamt). But the Zurich Zivilstadtamt told me that because I do not have a Familenausweiss that I need to get my name changed in my home country. I have emailed and called the US Embassy in Bern, but so far they have only been able to tell me the same thing—that I need a court order stating my new/old name (which I don't have and can't get here in CH) or a divorce decree that states my name change (which my Swiss divorce decrees doesn't state—only my maiden name is listed parenthetically). I've been through hell the last couple of years and am desperate to shed my last name (first-world problems, I know), so it's a priority that I just do that paperwork when I am back in the US to make sure it's done and I can move on with my life. If there were a clear and straightforward path via the Embassy to legally change my name, I would gladly take it! If you have any additional info, please share . . .
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Old 05.02.2020, 09:24
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

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I was married in the US and do not have a Familienausweis.
Being married in the US has nothing to do with having a 'Familienausweis', that is something for Swiss only, regardless of where they got married (I married my late wife in the US, and we got one as she was Swiss).

Tom
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Old 05.02.2020, 10:28
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

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Being married in the US has nothing to do with having a 'Familienausweis', that is something for Swiss only, regardless of where they got married (I married my late wife in the US, and we got one as she was Swiss).
Pure foreigner families can also get a Familienausweis if they got married in Switzerland or got a child in Switzerland after 31. Dec 2005.
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Old 06.02.2020, 06:56
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

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Pure foreigner families can also get a Familienausweis if they got married in Switzerland or got a child in Switzerland after 31. Dec 2005.
Exactly: I was a) not married to a Swiss person and b) did not have kids here (mine were born in the US). So I do not have a Familienausweiss. Hence why I cannot simply change my name in Switzerland and it has been made clear to me that this needs to be done through my home country (the US).
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Old 06.02.2020, 07:09
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

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Thanks, everyone. I spoke with someone at the Zivilstandsamt and at the Migration Office, and it seems they are unable to change my name here because I was married in the US and do not have a Familienausweis. So, it appears I need to go back to the US to change my name. I am also going to attempt going to the Passport Office in New York with my Swiss divorce decree to see if they will accept that (my maiden name is listed on the divorce decree, although the decree says nothing about changing my name). If they require a court order in addition, I'll have to petition the court in NY for a name change, although I would like to avoid that extra cost following what I paid to get divorced here!

And for others in a similar situation who are here with a different permit and are allowed to change their name, indeed, it is only after the divorce proceedings that you can change it by bringing the decree to the Zivilstandsamt.

Fingers crossed that I return from the US with my "real" name. I'll update here so that anyone else searching for this info has an easier time of figuring out the process than I did!
Now you see how its all stacked against the female. I changed my name once in Australia. Took a week!
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Old 01.03.2020, 21:28
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Re: Advice needed: US citizen changing name following divorce

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Now you see how its all stacked against the female. I changed my name once in Australia. Took a week!
And in addition to the runaround in CH, to change my name in New York I needed to publish the legal action in the local paper. Since it reeks of divorce, and all of my childhood friends trolling the newspaper will see this breaking news, I joked that I should add a line to the listing that says "Newly single and looking to mingle."

Pro tip to other women: don't change your name!!
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