Name Change After Marriage in Illinois

66 Comments

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

66 Comments

  1. Cherie Demmith

    Can you have two last names in Illinois without the hyphen? I wanted both my maiden and married name.
    Please let me know

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can you have two last names in Illinois without the hyphen?

      You'd have to file a court-petitioned name change for a space separated (a.k.a. double-barreled) name change.

      Reply
  2. Jaime

    I was married last year and we went to DMV to hyphenate our last names in illinois. We did not go through the SSA or change our names with anyone else. For professional purposes, I need to change my last name back to my original single last name and eliminate the hyphenated add on. Can I just go to the DMV with my social security card (which has my original single last name on it). Or what do I need to do?

    Reply
    1. Jaime

      Also, I want to notate that I never changed any names on my marriage license or certificate. The DMV changed my name on my ID solely because we said we were married and showed them the certificate with my original full name and my spouses original full name. My social security card I showed them had my original full name on it and still does.

      Reply
      1. Valera

        Also, I want to notate that I never changed any names on my marriage license or certificate.

        This has no impact.

        Reply
    2. Valera

      Can I just go to the DMV with my social security card (which has my original single last name on it). Or what do I need to do?

      You'll have to present a court-ordered name change to the DMV.

      Reply
  3. Michelle Rotramel

    When signing the marriage certificate at the ceremony, which name do I sign? My maiden name or my husband's last name, which will become my last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Michelle. I don't believe you'll be signing anything. Only the officiant writes on the certificate.

      Reply
  4. Erica Lampo

    Hi Valera

    If my daughter changes her name in the court can her husband change his name to her's with SS? Neither of them changed their names after marriage. If her name alone is changed and she changes her name on her birth certificate can she also change it on their Illinois marriage license/certificate as well?

    Thanks,
    Erica

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If my daughter changes her name in the court can her husband change his name to her's with SS?

      He'd likely have to go to court as well, as the name he'd want to change to wouldn't be referenced on the marriage certificate.

      If her name alone is changed and she changes her name on her birth certificate can she also change it on their Illinois marriage license/certificate as well?

      A "certificate of correction request" can be made to a marriage certificate, but what you're proposing isn't a correction, so it wouldn't apply.

      Reply
  5. Julie

    If I legally changed my middle and last name after getting married and want to change it back to my maiden name while still married (not getting divorced), can I use my marriage certificate the same way I did before to change everything or do I need to go through the adult name change process?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      can I use my marriage certificate the same way I did before to change everything or do I need to go through the adult name change process?

      Since you've already changed your name once because of marriage, you'll to petition the court as an adult to change it back to your maiden name.

      Reply
  6. Melinda

    My biological father was never much of a father. My stepfather raised me and I want to take his name and hyphenate it with my husband's name. Can I do that?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Melinda. If your stepfather's last name is not your current legal last name, you cannot hyphenate using your marriage certificate. You'd have to go to court for such a name change.

      Reply
  7. Jessica

    I have decided to drop my middle name and use my maiden name as my middle name, and then take my husband's last name after marriage. I was able to do this easily (becoming Jessica Draper Johnson instead of the former Jessica Marie Draper) with the Social Security office and even got my card in the mail, but the Secretary of State's office refused to change my driver's license due to saying they need a court order for this kind of change; I can't find any evidence online that a court order is needed for this kind of name change after marriage in Illinois (it is in a few other states), and the social security office was no problem, but I really need my driver's license to match my SS card… any tips??

    I already showed the DMV staff my new social security card that states "Jessica Draper Johnson" as my name and they still would not do it without a court order. Really don't want to have to do a court order as it costs hundreds of dollars and takes ten weeks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jessica. Sometimes clerks get it wrong. You can request documentation that cites where it isn't allowed, such as the state's compiled states or written clarification from the SOS or attorney general. Or, even try another clerk or office.

      Reply
      1. Jessica

        Thanks, Valera. I'm ordering a new passport and going to bring it to DMV as well for my next go around to see if that will be enough to get my name changed. But yes, I think the clerk got it wrong which is very annoying.

        Reply
        1. VG

          Hi,

          Did you ever get this issue fixed? I’ve called the SOS’s office in Illinois twice, and both agents have told me the same thing, that I can’t change my middle name to my maiden name without a court order, which makes no sense to me either because I can’t find any evidence of this online, and I also know of people who have done this in Illinois without a problem.

          Reply
          1. Jenny

            You need to provide your marriage certificate at the dmv. It should suffice as "proof" of an event that occurred that allows you to change your name. A passport updated with the new name is further proof of the citizenship requirement for a Real ID.

  8. Maitte

    When I married my husband (10 yrs ago) i was legally still using my 1st husbands last name, my ID was still under that last name and I never asked for my maiden name to be reinstated in the dissolution of marriage. So obviously my marriage certificate shows me with my previous husbands last name. I have since then started using my maiden name. My current driver license and other documents are under my maiden name now. Can I have my last name changed to my maiden name on my marriage certificate? what is the process?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I have my last name changed to my maiden name on my marriage certificate? what is the process?

      You'd have to have a court order, but it's unlikely to be approved just to change the name on your vital record. Altering a marriage certificate is reserved mainly for clerical errors.

      Reply
  9. Jocelyn Tayag

    in Lake county illinois, ccan i legally follow my husbands name even if my name in marriage certificate is under my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      can i legally follow my husbands name even if my name in marriage certificate is under my maiden name?

      Yes, you can.

      Reply
  10. Tes

    Can you have 2 middle names in Illinois. I don’t want to give up middle name and want to add maiden as 2nd middle name?

    Reply
  11. Anwar

    My wife and I got married in 2009, and didn't do the name change at the time. Now that we have children we'd like to get her last name changed. Is the process still the same as if we would've just got married, or is there more to it because of the time?
    Also, how can we do this being out of state? We are military not living in Illinois, and have no plans of returning any time soon.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is the process still the same as if we would've just got married

      The process is the same.

      how can we do this being out of state?

      The SSA has foreign offices.

      Reply
  12. Justin

    My fiancée and I are getting married but he has a hyphenated last name and wants to drop on name and I want to take his one last name he’s keeping will that be the same as a name change with the marriage certificate in dupage il?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      he has a hyphenated last name and wants to drop on name

      Not possible without a court order.

      and I want to take his one last name he’s keeping

      The SSA would actually accept this, but the DMV might not. This is the federal and state split that sometimes catches people off guard.

      Reply
      1. Justin

        We both looked at the marriage license and it looks like we can both change our last name like his is Justin John-Smith to Justin Smith

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Justin. That's interesting. You're seeing language on your marriage license that talk about taking a segment of your future spouse's name?

          Reply
          1. Justin

            I guess I’m confused all I want is to not have a hyphenated name after we get married

          2. Valera

            Hi Justin. Illinois marriage license applications don't have a spot to choose a new name after marriage. In such instances, the SSA will allow you choose one last name of a two-part name. The DMV may not.

            Are you seeing something different written on your license or instruction attachment?

  13. Marina Kraljevic

    Hi there, my fiancé and I are getting married in court on October 4th. He has a court date on November 4th to legally change his name to his mother’s maiden name. Do we have to get a new marriage certificate after that? Is that possible?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do we have to get a new marriage certificate after that? Is that possible?

      No, you don't have to. No, it's not possible anyway.

      Reply
  14. Karl

    Has anyone else had to deal with Illinois being unable to process three middle names at the DMV and include it on their license? My wife kept her middle names when we got married and added her maiden name as a third middle name. We had no problems with it in our previous state or SSA but when we moved and got our licenses in IL, they weren't able to put all three names on her license without removing a space. As such, will we have any issues traveling?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      As such, will we have any issues traveling?

      It's doubtful you'll face trouble, especially if you bring supporting identification, such as your marriage certificate and other matching forms of ID.

      Reply
  15. Jillian

    Can I change my last name to my soon-to-be-husband's last name, prior to getting married, with a marriage license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jillian. You'll have to do it after marriage using a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  16. Christina

    I am married now via k1 visa, i applied for a change of name using my husbands name and the card is going to arrived anytime. But now, i want my maiden name back to avoid any complications will it be possible if i change my name in removal of condition applicatin back to my maiden name even if i had my green card in married name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      will it be possible if i change my name in removal of condition applicatin back to my maiden name

      No, you can't change your name when filing for removal of conditions using Form I-751.

      Reply
  17. Cassandra

    Hi! My fiancé wants to drop his legal last name Aguilar and instead use his middle name which is Allen as his last name. Would he need to go to court to ask to use his middle name as his last name instead? And what would be a reason that the judge would decline his request?

    His mother remarried and has a new last name and so does his sisters. They’re father left when they were young and he is the only one remaining with the last name Aguilar.

    After he legally changes his name to Allen, will I be able to simply take that name when we marry? And my last question is, is this an expensive process in Illinois? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Would he need to go to court to ask to use his middle name as his last name instead?

      Yes.

      would be a reason that the judge would decline his request?

      The judge would decline if there were suspicion of fraud, attempting to evade debts, or the name change was attempting to harm someone.

      After he legally changes his name to Allen, will I be able to simply take that name when we marry?

      Yes, as long as he updates his ID before you apply for your marriage license. His ID must match the name he applies with.

      is this an expensive process in Illinois?

      It costs about $300. You'll have to contact your circuit court for precise numbers. If he can't afford it, a fee waiver may be requested.

      Reply
  18. Stephanie

    My fiancé wants to change his last name to his step-fathers last name. Are we able to change both of our last names to his step-fathers last name through marriage instead of formally petitioning the courts?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Stephanie. He'd have to go to court. So that you can avoid going to court too, he'd have to change his name before marriage and make sure his ID reflects it before getting the marriage license.

      Reply
  19. April

    My fiancee and I both want to change our last names to a combined last name, and I want to move my maiden name to my middle name. (I already have two and it's a PITA.) I originally thought I could go through the court process and then he could just take my name at marriage, but now I'm not sure he can. Is there a way we can do this with just one of us going through the courts rather than both of us?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi April. Your fiancee can change his last name through court. Then update his ID before applying for a marriage license. Finally, you'd take his last name and execute the maiden to middle switch at the same time.

      Reply
  20. Sylvia Williams

    I want to change my last name back to my first husbands last name as I have children with him. I remarried after our divorce and took the last name of my second husband, I am divorced from my second husband and I want to change my last name back to my first husband's last name as my children have been very upset that I changed my name from their last name. I do not know if this is possible and how do I go about the change if it is allowed.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sylvia. If the divorce decree from your second marriage contains a declaration restoring your prior name, use that document to change it. If not, you'll have to file a name change petition at your county courthouse.

      Reply
  21. Eric

    Is it possible to change my first name when I get married as well? I will change my first name to my middle and hyphenate my Husbands last name

    Reply
  22. Amanda

    I changed my last name to my husband's last name when we were married several years ago (got a new Social Security card, license shows First Middle MarriedName, passport is the same).

    I've decided I want to change my middle name to my maiden name. I know I could have done this the first go-round but am I able to do this now without petitioning the court?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      but am I able to do this now without petitioning the court?

      Unfortunately, no, you must go to court for the second go-round.

      Reply
  23. Joanna

    I have always wanted to change my middle name. Now that I'm getting married and will be taking my fiance's last name, can I also change my middle name through marriage? Or must it go through the court? It would not be my maiden name, but a completely different middle name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Joanna. You can change your middle name through marriage, but it would have to be your maiden.

      Reply
  24. Bruna

    Hi there! I have two last names and I want to add my husband last name, so I would have 3 last names. My husband want to take as well my last names, so also have 3 last names. Is this possible? Thank you so much

    Reply
  25. Ita

    Hi Valera,

    My fiance has been wanting to change her first name for quite some time. Will she be able to do so using our marriage license as proof of reason for a name change? Or does this only apply to last names? It would be very helpful if we could avoid the hassle of petitioning the court.Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ita. A first name change isn't possible using the marriage certificate.

      Reply
  26. Caitlen

    Can I change my first and last name after I marry? Or would I need to file separately with the court?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Caitlen. You can change your last name through marriage. First name change must be done through court.

      If you're certain you'll be going to court, you can kill two birds with one stone and change your full name that way, then just forget about doing it through marriage.

      Reply
  27. Luciana

    I got married in 2012 and just kept my maiden name. Now I want to add my husband's last name. Will it take longer or be more difficult because it's been few years since we got married?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Luciana. Since it's been two years since you got married, you'll have to supply an ID document with your name change forms. Think driver's license, state ID, or passport.

      Had you made the change within two years of marriage, your marriage certificate could have been used for ID-purposes.

      For your driver's license, the time span doesn't matter. Same for your passport.

      Reply
  28. Vanessa

    I was able to drop my middle name to my maiden on my social security card. Once receiving my new social security card, I went to the DMV to update my name. They were not able to unless I had a court order because my name did not match my birth certificate. I thought in Illinois I did not need a court order. What are my next steps?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Vanessa. To be clear, are you saying your middle or maiden name didn't match? Or are you referring to your married surname not matching? If you do have to go to court, go to your county courthouse.

      Reply

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