When we change our name, it's often for important reasons in life. Getting married and taking your spouse's name. Going through a divorce and returning to your former name. Deciding that the name you've always carried just isn't the name for you after all. How to change your name in Illinois differs depending on your situation. Here, we'll go over:
- Identifying the correct legal process for changing your name;
- Filing the appropriate paperwork with government agencies; and
- Using your new name once everything is squared away.
1. Identify and Follow the Correct Illinois Legal Name Change Process
Most name changes occur after marriage. While most women still take their husband's surname (last name), there's a lot of diversity in this area and the law recognizes that. Recent changes in same-sex marriage, a rise in cohabitation, and other social changes affect what people do with their names when getting married. Illinois law reflects all of these realities.
When you get married in Illinois, either spouse can change their name while filling out a marriage certificate. No petition or further legal processes are required. Your valid marriage certificate – issued by the state, signed by the official performing the ceremony, and returned to the county clerk's office – serves as the legal proof of your name change.
It's also common to change your name after getting divorced. While the divorce process is often long, trying, and emotional, a name change can be worked into the existing process. A divorcing spouse can simply ask the court handling the divorce to have their name changed back to a former name during the proceedings. The court will generally grant this request and include it in the resulting divorce judgment.
Petition for a Change of Name -- Adults
Outside of marriage or divorce, you'll have to ask a court. Illinois law permits residents to petition for a name change with the local circuit court, located in the county where they live. The petition requires the submission of certain information to the court, including your:
- Current name;
- Sought (proposed) name;
- Residence information;
- Length of time spent as a resident in the state (it must be at least 6 months);
- State or county of birth; and
You'll need someone to file an affidavit verifying the petition's information as true. And additional information might be required – ultimately the court must approve, and a judge may request additional information or ask you questions at the hearing. Illinois also requires a person seeking to change their name this way to publish notice in a local newspaper for three consecutive weeks. This helps ensure people know about a proposed name change.
Prohibited Name Changes
You can't change your name for illegal or fraudulent reasons in Illinois. We go to court, publish notice in a newspaper, and formalize the name change process to inform people about it. This prevents people from skimping out on child support obligations, avoiding debt, or generally evading the law.
Minors – Petition for a Name Change
There are some additional requirements for changing a child's name. Illinois does permit entire families to change their name in a single go – the petitioner, his or her spouse, and children. For minors who haven't reached the state's age of majority, the court will consider whether the name change is in the child's best interest. Individual petitions to change a child's name can also be filed by a parent or guardian. Here, too, the court will consider the best interest of the child, including the child's wishes, the parents' wishes, and other factors.
2. File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
Once your name is legally changed, there's more paperwork to do. You'll want your driver's license to display your new name, so contact the Illinois Secretary of State's Office. When you have your revised license, contact the State Board of Elections to update your voter registration. And you should change your Social Security card as well at the local Social Security office.
3. Start Using Your New Name
When you've completed all paperwork, start using your new name! Make sure to tell family, friends, employers, business contacts, schools, and social contacts. That'll allow them to update their documents, contact information, and records. Don't forget to update any email or social media accounts you may have as well.
Get the Forms You Need in Illinois
Changing your name in the Prairie State can be a lengthy process. Avoid the time, headaches, and troubles of figuring everything out alone. We've done the work for you. Our Illinois name change forms can be used to change your name without the hassle. The best part is that you won't need the services of an attorney.