FAQ: Name Change After Divorce in Illinois

This is an FAQ about how to change your name after a divorce in Illinois. The information is for both an uncontested divorce in Illinois, and a contested divorce in Illinois. As an Illinois divorce lawyer, I thought this article about changing last names would be useful, even for people who aren’t my clients. Name change is done after a divorce, but if you need a divorce lawyer now, you can contact me here.

Can I change my name after a divorce in Illinois?

Yes, you can change your name after a divorce in Illinois. It’s not super complicated, so you don’t need to stress about it.

Can’t I just switch my name myself after divorce in Illinois?

I get it – you’ve gotten divorced, and now you want to change your last name back to your pre-marital (aka “maiden”) name. But changing one’s name is a legal procedure that is somewhat separate from the actual divorce in Illinois. Therefore, you must follow the correct procedure.

Don’t worry, you will be able to take care of a name change after divorce in Illinois. It just takes a few steps.

Can my Illinois divorce lawyer help me change my name?

Yes, your Illinois divorce lawyer can help you change your name. Changing one’s name requires a court order. Most often, the court order is procured one of two ways: a) though a judgment for dissolution (in a divorce case), or b) by court order in a case specifically to change one’s name (initiation by a petition for name change).

Since you are reading this article about name change after divorce in Illinois, your name change should be possible because your judgment for dissolution (aka “divorce decree”) states that you may change you name.

Therefore, what your lawyer should do is include language in the judgment for dissolution which allows the name change. For example, the judgment might say something like this: “Petitioner Jennifer Smith may change her last name to her premarital name of “Ross.”

After the court date to finalize your divorce, whether by trial, or by an uncontested prove up by stipulation (for an uncontested divorce in Illinois), the court will issue a judgment for dissolution that has language similar to the above suggested name change language.

How do I get my judgment for dissolution?

After a divorce is finalized, a lawyer will send the client a judgment for dissolution.

However, you will want to get the judgment for dissolution “certified” by the court clerk.

That’s when the court clerk puts a special stamp on it that supposedly shows the judgment is authentic (like we are in the Middle Ages). To get a certified judgment for dissolution, you will need to go to court and request it from the main clerk’s desk. You don’t need to appear in front of the judge to get a certified judgment, it’s only an administrative matter – so you just stand in line at the clerk’s desk (it’s a bit like the DMV). Court’s don’t judge hand out certified judgments when you get divorced – that’s why your lawyer can only give you the uncertified version. If you don’t have a certified judgment for dissolution, you cannot make the name change happen.

It might feel annoying to have to go to court to a get a certified copy of your judgment. But if you don’t do it yourself, you will need to pay someone to do it for you. If you want to get a name change after divorce in Illinois, you definitely need a certified copy of your judgment for dissolution.

So how do I make the name change happen?

The actual name change occurs with the Social Security Administration – specifically, by changing your Social Security Card.

The Social Security Administration actually makes this pretty easy. Below are some links you can refer to when trying to deal with the Social Security Administration to change your name after a divorce in Illinois.

Once you deal with the Social Security Administration, you are almost done with your name change after divorce in Illinois. You just need to wait for theme to process your documents.

What if my Illinois divorce lawyer doesn’t know how I can change my name?

Any Illinois divorce lawyer should be able to instruct you how to go about changing your name after a divorce in Illinois. If he or she cannot do so, frankly – you probably need a new Illinois divorce lawyer.

About the author: Contact Illinois family law attorney David Wolkowitz at 312-554-5433 or online. He is a family law and divorce attorney serving Chicago and the Counties of Cook, Champaign, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. Areas of practice include divorce, uncontested divorce, child custody, visitation, spousal maintenance, child support, and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act (the “UCCJEA”).