Does a woman have a legal right to use her birth name if she divorces?

A U.S. District Court suit aims to settle that question in the case of a Salt Lake County woman who was refused permission to use her birth name on her driver's license.The suit was filed by Wendy Jean Jorgensen against Judy Larsen, an employee of the Utah Department of Public Safety. Lawyers for Jorgensen are Brian M. Barnard and C. Dane Nolan.

Jorgensen was born to a family named Alldredge, the suit says. She married a man named Jorgensen and amended her driver's license to carry her new last name. They were divorced in January.

On Aug. 2, she went to the license office at the State Department of Public Safety, 2780 W. 47th South, to get her license amended. She wanted to use her birth name instead of the last name of her former husband.

The suit said she took a copy of her divorce decree establishing her divorce from Jorgensen, a certified copy of her birth certificate and her current Utah driver's license.

But Larsen said the name couldn't be changed under state law, as the divorce decree did not mention restoring her birth name, the suit says.

"The plaintiff was harmed and embarrassed," the suit reads. "The right of the plaintiff to use and be restored the use of her birth name, is a property interest and a liberty interest established by the common law, and protected by the United States Constitution."