Plaintiff, Lisa Holshue, and defendant, Robert Holshue, were divorced by final judgment dated May 20, 1993. The judgment followed a hearing on May 4, 1993 at which time all collateral issues were resolved by agreement. An oral stipulation was placed on the record and both parties adopted the stipulation during testimony.
At the hearing plaintiff-wife also sought an order of this court allowing her to assume the surname, Crane. Crane is not plaintiff's birth name nor a name she has used previously. Rather it is her mother's family name.
N.J.S.A. 2A:34-21 -- Resumption of Name or Assumption of Any Surname provides as follows:
The Court, upon or after granting a divorce from the bonds of matrimony to either spouse may allow either spouse to resume any name used by the spouse before the marriage, or to assume any surname.
Thus plaintiff argues she is entitled by statute to use the name, Crane. Plaintiff's application is not opposed by defendant.
An adult in this State may effect a name change in any number of ways. It is still commonplace for a woman upon marriage to take the name of her husband. It is also commonplace for a woman upon divorce to resume a prior married name or a birth name. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-21. And any citizen, man or woman, may apply for a name change pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:52-1 and R. 4:72. Plaintiff's application therefore is consistent with existing legislative
entitlements. Nevertheless, this court has significant misgivings regarding plaintiff's request.
Before the 1988 revision to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-21 that statute read as follows:
Resumption of Name: Surname of Husband
The court, upon or after granting a divorce from the bonds of matrimony to either spouse may allow the wife to resume any name used by her before the marriage, and may also order the wife to refrain from using the surname of the husband as her name.
The 1988 revision rendered the statute gender neutral. Moreover, it purports to allow a citizen to change his or her name to a name never used previously without following ...