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after a divorce, one can legally change one's ENTIRE name, and it is not limited to just "going back to the maiden name" - it can become Betty Rubble

Because the man does not Own the name.
It is just by what he is known.
If he no longer wants a communal association - he can change his last name.

Should one be required to not keep the name when a spouse dies?
One is still no longer married...

Changing a name is not just a matter of "what one goes by".
It is a legal process which can be a Huge Hassle - Social Security Cards, Driver's licenses, credit cards, passports, property ownership.
I think, whether children are involved or not, it is entirely up to the person who has to do the legwork.

Even the above hassles aside, there is the intangible "hassle" of whether one has a known professional reputation under the married name.
Having to explain (over and over) to every new business acquaintance Yes, I am Sally Swanson, who authored that paper/developed that procedure/made killer spreadsheets- whatever, but I got divorced and now I am Sally Maidenname is more "personal life" than most people want to interject.

I think the "same last name as the kids" is something that does not matter at all these days.

My frame of reference - I have an uncommon last name, have never been married, have 2 kids - both boys - one has my last name, one has his father's last name.
My X's ex kept his last name - even AFTER she remarried.
Neither of my sisters took the family name of their husband when they got married. They both have kids.
They bth also have professional reputations under our common last name.
My mom divorced my dad after 20 years of marriage (so we were all adults) and she kept his last name.

peace & you can call me Al
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