When you marry, you can change your name without going through a court process; your marriage certificate provides proof of your legal name change. If you later divorce, you can request that your maiden name be restored as part of your divorce proceedings or up to 30 days after your divorce decree is filed. Typically, you can request a name change when you file your initial divorce petition. The final divorce decree or other court order serves as proof of your name change.
Name Change Petition
If you have lived in your county in Illinois for at least six months, you can ask the court to change your name by filing a Petition for Change of Name and paying the court filing fee. Your petition must include your current name, the name you want to assume, and a certification that you have never been convicted of a felony or that your felony sentence has been completed for at least 10 years. Procedures can vary slightly between courts, and you may be required to file multiple copies of your petition.
Notice of Publication
When you file your petition, the court gives you a court date that you must include in your Notice of Publication. This notice must run in a newspaper where you live for at least three consecutive weeks, on at least one day each week, after you file your petition. Notice must first be published at least six weeks and a day before your hearing date. If you wait too long to publish your notice or do not publish it properly, the court cannot grant your name change until you fix the problem. The notice is intended to let the public know you are changing your name.
Order of Name Change
After you publish the notice as required, the newspaper mails you a certification to document the publication. You must present this certificate to the court, typically on your hearing date. At the hearing, the judge may ask you questions about the name change, or the clerk may simply take your paperwork to the judge. If all of the paperwork is in order, the court will issue an order for name change, or decree of name change, to officially approve your new name. The decree or order serves as proof of your legal name change, and you can begin using your new name at that time.