An often-overlooked issue in Illinois divorce cases is whether or not a spouse–usually a woman–wants to revert to the use of her maiden or former last name. Many people simply do not think about this until after the divorce is final. Some of you might just assume you can just start using your maiden name after a divorce without any following any formal legal process.
The reality is not quite so simple. Historically, if a divorcing spouse wants to change back to a maiden name, she must request a court order as part of the divorce proceedings. The judge can then incorporate legal language ordering said change as part of the final judgment or decree of divorce.
If a now-divorced person neglected to follow this procedure, however, he or she could still seek a legal name change. This required filing a separate application. In what might seem positively archaic in the Internet age, the applicant also had to pay to publish a notice in the local newspaper. Such notices are still required for many types of legal proceedings, such as the opening of a probate estate after someone dies. Illinois law specifically requires publication of a notice of a name change request for at least three consecutive weeks after the filing of an application.
To help simplify–and modernize–the law in this area, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed a bill that waives the publication requirement for divorced women. Specifically, the new legislation waives the notice publication requirements for any person who is going through divorce and wants to change his or her name back to what it used to be.
State Sen. Cristina Casto of Elgin sponsored the legislation, which passed both houses of the General Assembly with wide support. Castro told the Chicago Tribune that eliminating the publication requirement for divorced women would help protect their privacy. “When you’re going through a divorce, the last thing you want is a personal experience like this to be out in the paper.”
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Again, it is important to note that even under pre-existing Illinois law, a woman does not need to publish a notice in the newspaper if a judge has restored her maiden name as part of a divorce decree. However, many women initially decide to keep their married name only to later change their minds for one reason or another. The new legislation helps to streamline the process for such women.
If you have additional questions or concerns about how to handle your name and other related subjects, it is best to speak with a qualified Illinois divorce attorney who can advise you on the current state of the law. Contact SAM LAW OFFICE LLC today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our divorce and family law team.