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How Can I Legally Change My Last Name After My Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce lawyerWhen a couple gets married, the woman often takes her husband’s last name. The tradition of married surnames dates back to the 12th century. However, many people think this is sexist, or at least outdated, since the idea was common when women were considered men’s “property.” In some cases, a wife may hyphenate her maiden name with her new married name. In same-sex marriages, each spouse may opt to keep his or her own last name, both spouses could hyphenate, or the couple could choose one of the spouse’s surname for both to use. A growing trend in marriages these days even involves a husband taking his wife’s last name. 

Regardless of which name is ultimately chosen after the wedding, important documents are typically changed to reflect the legal union, such as Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, mortgage or vehicle loans or titles, and more. So what happens to the last names when a couple gets divorced? Can a spouse change back to his or her birth name? Can a child’s last name be changed after the divorce? It is important to know that in 2020, the Illinois law regarding name changes will be slightly different than it was in the past.  

Legally Changing Names

During the divorce proceedings, it can be a fairly simple process to legally change back to your maiden name, birth name, or previous legal name with the help of an experienced attorney. However, it is also possible to change it after the final divorce decree is issued. 

Currently, in order to reclaim your birth name, you will need to: 

  1. Request to return to your previous name in your divorce petition. 
  2. Testify at a hearing (if necessary) that you want to return to a previous name. 
  3. Obtain certified copies of your divorce decree. 
  4. Notify your local Social Security office by submitting a copy of your divorce decree. 
  5. Change your name on your Illinois driver’s license.
  6. Publish a notice of your name change in your local newspaper.

After January 1, 2020, Illinois residents who want to change their name after a divorce no longer need to file a petition to do so. In addition, they are not required to publicize the name change, such as in announcing it in the newspaper.

In the past, Illinois courts ruled that a father was automatically entitled to have his child keep his last name if he remained an active parent after a divorce. Now, however, it is possible to request a name change by petitioning the court. Similar to how other child-related issues are determined, such as child support, parenting time, a judge will consider what is in the best interest of your child before making any decisions. It is important to note that even if your child’s last name is changed, his or her father’s legal identity as well as the rights and duties of either parent remain the same. 

Contact an Oak Brook Divorce Lawyer

Life after divorce can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding. There are many issues to resolve, one of which can be returning to your birth name if you so desire. If you are considering legally changing your last name as well as your child’s name once your divorce is final, the skilled legal team at Anderson and Associates, P.C. can help you accomplish this goal. Our qualified Naperville child support attorneys understand the many legal aspects to a divorce and will assist you throughout the proceedings. To schedule your initial consultation, call our office today at 630-653-9400.



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