Family Law Corner: The 4 Year Name Change- Why'd He Have to Go and Make Things So Complicated?

Fresh out of rehab for alcohol addiction, Avril Lavigne’s ex-husband/Sum 41 lead singer Deryck Whibley made another surprising life change:  he asked a California court to restore to his “maiden name.”  Unbeknownst to the general public, Whibley took the name “Deryck Lavigne Whibley” after his 2006 wedding to Lavigne.  The marriage only lasted about three years.  Now, four years after their divorce and a year after Lavigne married Nickelback lead singer Chad Kroeger, a California court granted Whibley’s request to return to the name “Deryck Jason Whibley.”

Whibley could have accomplished his name change with very little effort at the time of his divorce.  Chapter 7 of the Family Code, titled “Restoration of Wife’s Former Name,” is now equally applicable to forward-thinking husbands like Whibley.  Family Code section 2080 allows the restoration of a party’s birth name or former name in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage.   Upon the filing of a Petition for Dissolution, the Petitioner has the option of checking a box requesting that his/her former name be restored.   The Respondent has the same option upon the filing of his/her Response to the Petition.  However, under section 2080, requesting name restoration in the Petition or Response is not necessary and a Court may order either party’s name restored if it is stated in the Judgment of Dissolution.

If, as in Whibley’s case, a divorced party later wishes to restore his name after a Judgment of Dissolution has been entered, the Court may act on a post-judgment “Ex parte Application for Restoration of Former Name” at any time.  The only information Whibley needed to provide to the Court is his former name and his date of entry of judgment of dissolution.  Because he had the opportunity to restore his name pursuant to his divorce but didn’t, his sudden name change is garnering a lot of attention, which might be exactly what he wants—he announced work on a new album shortly before reports of his name change were released to gossip websites.