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How to Change Your Name After Your Divorce

 Posted on February 24, 2023 in Divorce

elmhurst divorce lawyerThe divorce process will involve numerous complex issues related to your finances, your living situation, your relationships with friends and family members, and your personal affairs. Reorganizing your life as you separate from your spouse, establishing new living arrangements, determining how to cover various expenses, and changing your routines can be very stressful. As you work out all the details related to the end of your marriage, one issue that can easily be forgotten is the change to your name.

A name change can represent a new beginning after a divorce, and it can help you put difficult times behind you as you establish a new life for yourself. However, understanding the steps you will need to follow when changing your name is not always easy. In addition to completing the requirements to legally change your name, you will need to update multiple different types of documents and notify various organizations. By understanding the steps you will need to follow, you can make sure you will be prepared to move forward after your divorce is complete.

At Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, we can advise you on the best ways to address all of the legal issues you are facing during and after your divorce. We will provide you with strong, effective representation to ensure that you can achieve a positive outcome for your case, and we will also provide you with guidance on how to address any ongoing legal concerns. In addition to assisting with name changes, we can help you take steps to modify your divorce decree when necessary or enforce the terms of court orders put in place during your case.

When Do I Need to File a Request for a Name Change?

In most cases where a person is looking to change their name after getting divorced, they will revert to their maiden name or the name they had used before getting married. A divorce decree or judgment will typically state that one or both spouses will be allowed to return to the use of their former name(s). If your divorce decree includes this language, you usually will not need to file a request to change your name, and you can update your name in the appropriate places by providing a copy of your divorce decree.

However, if your divorce decree does not permit a name change, or if you are planning to change your name to something other than what you had used in the past, you will need to file an official Request for Name Change with your county court. After filing this form, you may need to publish notice of your intended name change in a local newspaper for three weeks. Publication notice is generally not required if you will be reverting to your maiden name or former name, but it will be necessary if you plan to change to a different name. A court date will be scheduled after you file your name change request, and it must be at least six weeks after the first date that your notice was published.

After your name change notice has been published for three weeks, you will receive a Certificate of Publication from the newspaper. You will need to file this certificate with your county court before the scheduled court date where your name change request will be considered. At your court date, you will be required to present documents such as your driver's license or other photo ID, your divorce decree, and any information about why you wish to change your name. Once your name change request is granted, you will receive an Order for Name Change that can be used to update your name wherever necessary.

Factors That May Complicate a Name Change Request

While post-divorce name change requests will typically be granted, there are some situations where you may not be allowed to change your name. If you have been convicted of a felony, you will not be allowed to change your name until 10 years have passed since the completion of your sentence. Name changes are also prohibited for anyone who is a registered sex offender or who has been convicted of identity theft.

If you have been the victim of domestic violence, or if you believe that publishing notice of your name change would put you at risk of suffering harm or experiencing discrimination, you may request to waive the notice requirement. You can do so by filing a Motion to Waive Notice & Publication with your county court. After doing so, a court date will be scheduled in which a judge will review this request.

At this hearing, you can provide information showing why you should not be required to publish notice of your name change. This may include an order of protection against your former spouse or other parties, records showing that you are a protected person under the conditions of bail for a person who has been arrested for domestic violence or other offenses, or testimony from witnesses who can provide details about the potential risks of physical harm or discrimination you may face if your request to change your name is made public. If the judge decides to waive your requirement to publish notice, they may allow you to change your name at that time, or another court date may be scheduled to address your name change request.

Steps to Take After Changing Your Name

After your name change has been approved, you will need to update your name with government organizations, financial institutions, and other companies or services. The updates you will need to make include:

  • Social Security - The first step to take after your name has been changed will be to contact the Social Security Administration and ensure that the federal government has been informed of your new name. You will need to provide proof of your name change, which may include your divorce decree or the Order of Name Change issued by the court. You will also need to verify your identity by providing a copy of your driver's license or other government-issued ID, and you must verify your U.S. citizenship by providing a copy of your birth certificate or passport. Social Security requires you to provide either the original documents or certified copies rather than photocopies. To ensure that all documents are handled correctly, it is often advised to update your information by going to your local Social Security Administration office in person rather than submitting an application through the mail. Once your name change has been processed, you will be issued a new Social Security card. The IRS will also be notified of your name change.

  • Driver's license - The next step will be to update your state ID. You can visit your local Illinois Secretary of State driver services facility to do so. You will need to bring proof of identity such as your current driver's license, as well as proof of your name change and information showing that your name has been updated with the Social Security Administration. You will also usually be required to provide proof of your current residence, such as utility bills or bank statements, and this will ensure that the address on your driver's license is up to date.

  • Passport - If you currently have a valid passport, you can update your information by submitting an application through the mail. Different forms may be used depending on whether your passport was issued within the past year or more than one year ago. You will need to provide proof of your name change, and a new passport photo must be included with your application. If you made plans to travel or booked airplane tickets prior to changing your name, you may wish to wait to update your passport until your trip has been completed, since the ID you present at an airport must match the name on your ticket.

  • Voter registration - To ensure that you will be able to vote in upcoming elections, you will need to make sure the correct information is on file in your state. You may be able to update your information at the same time as you update your driver's license, but if necessary, you can submit a new voter registration application.

  • Mailing address - To ensure that you receive mail sent to you, you can update your information with the United States Postal Service. By letting the USPS know that you will be receiving mail under your new name at your current address, you can make sure that mail will not be returned or rerouted.

  • Employment forms - After your name change request has been approved, you will need to make sure your employer has the correct information on file. You may need to fill out new W-4 and I-9 forms, which will ensure that your income is reported properly to the IRS. Your employer can also make sure your name is updated on your health insurance plan, 401(k) accounts, or other benefits you receive.

  • Financial institutions - You will need to make sure your information is correct on all of your bank accounts, and you can do so by contacting the bank and informing them of your name change. You will also need to update your name on your credit cards, investment accounts, and auto insurance or homeowner's insurance policies. You will also need to contact your mortgage lender to ensure that the proper name is used on your home loan, and auto loans or other loans may need to be updated as well.

  • Other accounts - Any other services you use will need to be notified of your name change. These may include utilities, cell phone or internet service, and online accounts for services you subscribe to. You may also want to update your email address, social media profiles, or any other websites or apps that use your name.

Can I Change My Child's Name?

Most of the time, children of divorced parents will continue to use the same name they had while their parents were married. However, if you believe that it will be necessary to change your child's name after your divorce, you may include them in your name change request. Your child's other parent must be notified and given an opportunity to respond to the name change request unless their parental rights have been terminated.

When considering whether to grant a name change request for a child, a judge will look at whether there is clear and convincing evidence that the name change will be in the child's best interests. They may look at issues such as the wishes of both parents, the wishes of the child, and the relationship between the child and other family members, including parents, step-parents, siblings, and step-siblings.

Contact Our Elmhurst Divorce Lawyers

Changing your legal name after divorce can be time-consuming and complicated, but it is a necessary step that will ensure that you can move on to the next phase of your life and prepare for a brighter future. If you have questions about the legal requirements you will need to meet to change your name, or if you need assistance with any other divorce-related issues, contact our DuPage County family law attorneys at 312-605-4041.





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