Family Law on Name Change in Illinois

By Tom Streissguth

To file for a change of name in Illinois, you must submit a petition to the circuit court in your county and make an appearance at a court hearing. Illinois law also requires public notice of the petition before the hearing can take place. There are different procedures for changing the name of a minor child or changing your own name after a marriage, civil union or divorce.

Marriage or Civil Union

Illinois law allows you to change your legal name after a marriage or civil union takes place. You will need to file the marriage license with the clerk of the circuit court in your county. The license will show the change of name; you will also provide a birth certificate or other proof of legal identity. After receipt of the marriage license, the court then issues a marriage certificate, which is the document that brings about the legal change of name.

Name Change After Divorce

You can request a change back to your unmarried name during a divorce. Illinois law requires that the name change be requested in the divorce petition and granted in the divorce settlement. If you don't change to your unmarried name in the process of divorce, you will have to file a standard Petition for Change of Name and attend a hearing on the matter.

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Child's Name Change

You can change the name of a minor child in Illinois if you are the biological or adoptive parent. You file a petition for name change in the county circuit court; both parents sign the petition or the parent seeking the name change must notify the other parent by mailing a certified copy of the petition. If the other parent's whereabouts are unknown, you must publish a notice of the petition in a local newspaper and mail a copy of the petition to the last known address of the other parent. If the other parent does not consent to the name change, both parents must appear at the hearing where the matter will be decided by a judge.

Name Change Requirements

When you file a petition for name change, you must have been a resident of Illinois for at least six months. The petition must be accompanied by a filing fee, which varies from one court to the next, as well as a newspaper fee for the required three-week publication of your Notice of Filing of Petition for Change of Name. After publication, you file a Certificate of Publication with the court and prepare an Order for Change of Name to be signed by the judge after your hearing.

Hearing and Order

To complete the process, you must attend a public hearing, at which a judge will inquire on your reasons for the change and then render a decision. Your petition may be denied if the judge finds it frivolous; Illinois law also bars a name change for people convicted of a felony, misdemeanor sex crimes or identity fraud. The court will provide you with a certified copy of the signed order that legally changes your name; extra copies will also be available from the court clerk.

Other Agencies

After you have legally changed your name with the state of Illinois, you must use the certified copy of the court order to change your name with other agencies. File Form SS-5 with the Social Security Administration (which will notify the Internal Revenue Service), and apply for a new driver's license with the Driver Services Department. With a new Social Security card and driver's license (or identity card), you can proceed to change your name on your passport and on your bank and credit card accounts.

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