Illinois law allows for a person to legally change his or her name either with or without the legal assistance of an attorney. For the woman who has successfully obtained a divorce, hanging on to the last name of an ex-spouse can be an unnecessary reminder of a stage in life she is trying to forget. Many times a woman will choose to drop the last name of her ex-spouse and resume her maiden name. Another common situation involving a legal name change would include a situation in which a parent desires to change the last name of her child to the last name of her new spouse in the event that the step-parent legally adopts the child. Fortunately, the process by which one can change his or her name in the State of Illinois is relatively simple. The following steps must be followed in order for one to legally change his or her name:
1. Send a Legal Notice to a weekly newspaper to have published. Illinois law requires that the notice run once a week for three weeks in a newspaper which is published in the county where the petitioner (the person seeking to have his/her name changed) files. The petitioner must pay a publication fee to the newspaper company in order to have the notice published. This fee may be waived upon approval of a judge. In order to request a publication fee waiver, the petitioner must obtain and fill out (1) a Motion to Waive Publication Costs, and (2) an Order Waiving Publication Costs.
2. Fill out a Petition for Change of Name, Affidavit, and Order for Change of Name. Each county may have a different version of the Petition, Affidavit, and Order, but they all are relatively similar. The Petition must be filled out in its entirety, and the affidavit must be signed in front of a notary public. The Order must be filled out except for the portion which the judge will sign and date. A standard Petition (including the Affidavit) and Order can be found at http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Forms/approved/name_change/name_change.asp. Although most county websites provide their own set of forms that may be filled out, the forms provided by the abovehttp://www.illinoiscourts.gov/ webpage are required to be accepted in all Illinois courts.
3. File the Petition, Affidavit, Order, and Legal Notice with the Circuit Clerk. In order to file the documents, the courts will require a filing fee to be paid. This fee may also be waived upon approval from a judge.
4. Get a court date. Depending on the county, the method by which the petitioner is given a court date varies. In some counties (i.e. DeKalb County) the publication company will notify the petitioner of his/her court date. In other counties the circuit clerk will notify the petitioner of his/her court date. In any event, Illinois law requires that the hearing take place at least 6 weeks from the date of the first installment of the publication of legal notice in the newspaper.
5. Go to the hearing. After waiting 6 weeks from the date of the initial publication of notice, the petitioner must attend the hearing. The publication allows for anyone who objects the change of name to attend the hearing and object at that time. If the judge finds no reason to deny the change of name, he or she will grant the petition.
6. Change name on important documents. Upon a granting of a petitioner’s request for a change of name, the petitioner may change his/her name on his/her Birth Certificate and Social Security Card.
For more information on legal name changes, feel free to contact The Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.