Name change after divorce, marriage, or any other reason under the sun is a huge decision. If you are in Illinois there are a number of things you might want to know in order to proceed with this change legally and properly.

Marriage name change options

In Illinois, the right to name change after marriage is extended to the husband or wife, including those in a same sex union. During the application for a marriage certificate/license you don't have to indicate the preferred name. After marriage you only need to apply for a marriage certificate's certified copy from the county clerk in your jurisdiction. The certified copy of the marriage certificate can then be shown to any governmental and nongovernmental institution where a proof of change of name through marriage is required. Depending on what you want, there are a number of options you can use to change your name.

Hyphenation

Hyphenating your name after marriage has always been popular. It allows the maiden name to remain while at the same time adding the surname of a spouse. Hyphenating a name ensures that friends, clients and colleagues know who you are, follow your career and other passions after marriage.

Maiden to middle

Taking your maiden name and using it as the middle name, while taking the last name of your spouse is very popular today in name changes. If you have never loved your middle name this option is more appealing and a choice in Illinois, but not in every State.

Husband taking wife's last name

In Illinois, a man's right to change his name to that of his wife after marriage is only recognized through the courts. Sometimes the woman might have a famous name and because the husband is not tied to his he might decide to drop his last name for the wife's.

It's worth noting there will be changes in the name change area considering the ever changing legal challenges cropping up including the legalization of same sex unions. However, the most important thing is convincing the court with solid reasons as to why you need a name change.

Illinois name change law also seems to give people who are married the chance to adopt a wholly new name beyond the hyphenated or spouse's name but again, you need to convince the judge you need a name change.

Divorce name change

To change your name in Illinois after divorce is easy if you can indicate your decision to change your name during the divorce process so that it can appear in the divorce decree. If you do this, you will not need another legal process or pay extra fees to change your name to what you want or revert to a prior name.

On most divorce decree forms, practically every form for divorce used in the United States, you will find a section allowing you to change your name with the divorce decree.

However, this will only allow you to go back to a maiden name or prior name you had used legally before. Beyond this, you must go ahead with another name change process to adopt the name you want. In case the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage does not contain the provision on resuming a maiden name, before appearing in the court ensure you have written it on the Judgment.

It's possible in some parts of Illinois, such as Cook County, to have the Judgment certified immediately after the Judge has signed it. The Judgment can then be taken to the clerk's Domestic Relations office.

General adult name change

Sometimes seeking a name change in Illinois might seem too much a hustle, considering all the paperwork required, court appearances and fees, but making the change official as soon as possible is very important. Illinois is one of the states allowing a name change just by its consistent usage but the name won't be accepted by governmental bodies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and Social Security Administration. A legally accepted name change is the way to go.

Remember, the State of Illinois requires anyone seeking a name change to be 18 years of age and above, and a resident of the state for a minimum of six months if a name change petition was going to be accepted. Registered sex offenders in Illinois and elsewhere or those with a felony record are also restricted.

Have the right forms for a name change with you. These includes request for a Name Change form, Order for Name Change and Notice of Filing a Request for Name Change, all of which are accessible online from any county courthouse, even in your own jurisdiction. Have the paper work filed at the county courthouse in your locality and fill each of these three forms in the manner required leaving out the areas reserved for the judge or clerk to fill.

Submit them at the Circuit Clerk office at the county courthouse and have three additional copies of each of the three forms together with the originals. Ensure you have been provided with a hearing date, which is usually eight weeks after filing the forms. The copies and original forms also need to have the official stamp. A filing fee has to be paid, although it is not uniform in all the counties. If you want a waiver of the fee this is also the time to apply for it for those financially challenged.

It's required that you publish the Notice for Filing a Request for Name Change form that you have completed as required and stamped by the court clerk. The clerk usually indicates the newspapers available or accepted by the State or county court. Remember, the notice needs to appear in the publication at least once every week consecutively for three weeks. The first appearance in the paper needs to be at least six weeks prior to hearing before the judge. You are the one to part with the publication fees.

After the notice has been published as required, ensure you have received a publication proof from the newspaper and take it to the clerk; sometimes the newspaper will do this. If you get the proof yourself file it fast with the court clerk prior to appearing before the court on the date indicated.

Arrive early in the court, know the room number of the hearing venue and wait for the case and your name to be summoned before the judge. Before appearing in court ensure you come with copies, dully stamped, of the various forms from Request for Name Change, Order for Name Change, and Certification of Publication to the Notice of Filing Request for Name Change. Other additional documents that might be required with your name change request should also be carried, especially a photo ID showing the current name you seek to change. In case of a past conviction come with evidence that the criminal conviction was dealt with accordingly and it's in the past.

Since you'll probably be questioned by the judge under oath, everything you say should be the truth. Whether the request is denied or granted the judge will sign indicating the decision the court has made. Once granted, go ahead and ask for extra Order for Name Change certified copies from the court clerk.

Child name changes

In case it's a minor, below the age of 18, who wants a name change the process is very similar to the adult name change petition that culminates in an Order for Name Change. Only the paperwork differs while at least one guardian or parent should approve the name change request. The required forms for child name change include Notice of Publication if there's only a non-custodial parent who cannot be traced, Notice of Motion for non-cohabiting parents, Minor's Decree of Change of Name and Petition for Change of Name for a child.

Remember the name of a minor can only be changed by a biological parent or if the minor has lived with you/your family for a minimum of three years and recognized as your adopted child. It's the court to determine if the child has been adopted or recognized as adopted. The minor's name cannot be changed, however, if he/she has been convicted of aggravated identity theft, identity theft, felony or misdemeanor for various things such as indecent solicitation, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of a minor or a child or has to be registered as a sex offender.

It's also important to note that name change of a child cannot be done in a divorce decree. Changing the name must be done separately. You will also have to explain to the court that the request is in the best interest of the minor; if the child is seven years of age or older you must take him to the hearing with you. Once the judge has accepted the reasons given for the name change, a court order will be provided granting the name change of the minor.

Always be prepared with all the required documents before appearing in court by bringing all the documents copies for every person involved as well as the original documents for the judge to sign.

Change of name on birth certificate

If you want to change the name of a minor on a birth certificate, who was born within the state of Illinois, this can be done easily through mail by sending the request to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Remember for this to be done you need an Order for Change of Name's certified copy that you should have requested from the court clerk after the judge had approved the name change request. You also need the original birth certificate's copy of the minor.

Mail the documents together with a money order of a $15 fee (it's not uniform across all counties in the state) to the Illinois Department of Public Health Division of Vital Records. For minors who were not born in Illinois, the birth records officer in the state the child was born should be contacted so that the birth certificate of the minor can be changed.

For adults who want their birth certificates corrected with the new name they need to apply the same way with the proof of name change, a valid photo identification issued by the government or state, and the fee. However, the Department of Public Health, Vital Records division insists each request is always unique and will be approached as such.

Name change on Social Security, DMV, Passport, IRS

Once you have completed the name change process legally, the change needs to be reported to the Social Security Administration first before approaching the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles (a subdivision of the Secretary of State office). To change with Social Security, you cannot do it online, but either by mail or in person.

Ensure you have a certified document showing the change of name, such as a court order, divorce decree or marriage certificate, proof of your own identity through a United States Passport, an ID issued by the State or driver's license, including a proof you are a Citizen of the United States such as a certificate of naturalization, citizenship certificate or a U.S. birth certificate. Ensure all the documents are either certified copies or originals.

Once the Social Security has changed your name, approach the Illinois DMV to change your driver's license and the name on the vehicle title. You can then complete the name change with the other governmental bodies, such as IRS and State Department.

Name change with non-governmental institutions

Banks, credit card companies, loyalty club memberships, professional and academic documents, employers, insurance companies and other nongovernmental institutions will require the legal proof of your name change to effect it. Always have the original or certified copies of the documents required, which you have probably used with the Social Security Administration and other governmental bodies to change your name.

Recognized documents of the name change event

  • Certified copy of marriage certificate for marriage name change
  • Certified judgment for dissolution of marriage for divorce name change
  • Court order for name change for adult name change
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof citizenship

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