How to Change Names Legally in Illinois

by Lisa Magloff

    Although the process of changing your name in Illinois is straightforward, it involves several steps. Before you begin the process, make sure you qualify to change your name in Illinois. You must be resident in the state for six months before beginning the name change process. If you have been convicted of any felony, identity theft, criminal sex abuse of a child or indecent solicitation, you cannot change your name until 10 years have elapsed from the end of your sentence. You also cannot change your name in Illinois while on the sex offenders' register.

    Step 1

    Request the necessary name change forms from your local Illinois Circuit Court clerk's office. These forms can also be obtained online from your local circuit court's website.

    Step 2

    Fill out the petition form, formally requesting a name change. You also need to fill out the judgment form and cover sheet.

    Step 3

    Have the affidavit portion of your petition signed by a witness. This must be someone who knows you but is not related to you. The affidavit attests that you are who you say you are. The witness must sign the affidavit in front of a notary and the entire affidavit must be notarized.

    Step 4

    Publish a notice of your name change in any Illinois newspaper with a circulation over 100,000, or in an Illinois law bulletin. Some law bulletins have an office in the county court building. The circuit court clerk's office can advise you where you can publish your notice. The publication must run for six weeks. Obtain a notice of publication from the paper when you place and pay for your notice.

    Step 5

    Make three copies of the petition and affidavit form, and three copies of the judgment form. File these documents with your local Illinois circuit court clerk's office.

    Step 6

    Schedule a court hearing with the circuit court clerk. This can be done when you submit your forms and notice of publication. You will be given a date for the hearing, as well as a case number and courtroom number. You also need to pay a fee. This varies from county to county. As of 2011, the fee in Chicago was $319.

    Step 7

    Attend your court hearing. At the hearing, the judge will issue you with a name change judgment. This is the court's authorization allowing you to change your name. Certify the name change judgment after your court hearing. You can do this at the court clerk's office.

    Tips & Warnings

    • If the name change is for a minor, and both parents have custody of the child, you do not need to publish a notice as long as both parents are present in the county clerk's office when you submit the forms, or if the missing parent has submitted an affidavit. In this case, you will be assigned a court date immediately.
    • If you are changing only your last name, and you have minor children who are changing their last names at the same time, you can all use the same petition forms.

    About the Author

    Since graduating with a degree in biology, Lisa Magloff has worked in many countries. Accordingly, she specializes in writing about science and travel and has written for publications as diverse as the "Snowmass Sun" and "Caterer Middle East." With numerous published books and newspaper and magazine articles to her credit, Magloff has an eclectic knowledge of everything from cooking to nuclear reactor maintenance.

    Photo Credits

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