General Question

anniereborn's avatar

How does one legally change their last name?

Asked by anniereborn (15511points) October 10th, 2013

I have had my ex-husband’s last name for far too long. I would like to go back to my maiden name. I live in Illinois. I have tried finding out how to do this, but it confuses me. I know hiring a lawyer is an easy way. But, it’s an expensive way.

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13 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

You just figure out what documents you need, I got the documents down at the courthouse for my FIL. I think I called first to the government offices and they told me where I needed to go to pick up the forms. The forms might be online in your state. You fill them out and there should be instructions on the process. Some states it is much easier than others. Going back to maiden should be a piece of cake, it is already an aka for you. What state are you in?

chyna's avatar

@JLeslie She says in her question she lives in Illinois.
I think you will need to get a lawyer to change it now. It shouldn’t cost that much and the lawyer will cover all bases for you.

JLeslie's avatar

My FiL did not use a lawyer. He just filled the paperwork amd went before the judge. I don’t know the procedure in IL, but here is a link with info.

I always call the government office and get advice. I am better at understanding what I need to do by talking to someone. I do it with Social Security, Immigration, they are always very helpful and we do all of that stuff without a lawyer.

Changing her name is not risky to do without a lawyer, it isn’t like she will be kicked out of the country.

chyna's avatar

I didn’t say it was risky or that she would be kicked out of the country. I’m saying it would be easier and quicker without her researching it all herself.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna It was easy in FL and costs much less than with a lawyer. The lawyer just makes you fill out all the forms anyway. The only difference is he hands them to you and files them instead of the person doing it for themselves.

My point was I have done this sort of thing even when a relative was dealing with immigration and a possibility of needing to leave the country. A name change is no big deal. Plus, she is going back to a previous legal name, so what judge isn’t going to sign off? That is what I meant by basically no risk.

@anniereborn The link I gave was Cook County. You need to look up your county. Did you put the request for name change in your divorce paperwork? Then you might just be able to present that. Or, did you want to keep your name when you got divorced and now you changed your mind?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@anniereborn If you want to do it do it right, get an attorney. There are a bunch of hoops to jump through, including public filings, and time frames for everything. Cheap is nice but you get what you pay for. Do you want this screwed up?

JLeslie's avatar

Two good links:

Find you court contact number here.

And, here is an overview for IL residents for name changes.

Katniss's avatar

Didn’t your lawyer ask if you wanted your name changed? My lawyer had that I wanted my maiden name back in the divorce papers.
Sorry, not very helpful. I guess I thought it was common practice to do so.

anniereborn's avatar

My divorce was 15 years ago. At the time I did not want my name changed. Now I do. I can’t afford a lawyer and that is why I have waited all this time. I have been hoping I could do it without. Thank you all for your advice and helpful links.

JLeslie's avatar

That legal aid link I gave you might be a lawyer’s website, I don’t know. It doesn’t have a GOV ending, so I would not send any personal information in through that site if they prompt you for it. The government is where you want to go if you want to do it yourself.

cazzie's avatar

Birth certificate. Social Security number. Marriage certificate. Divorce decree. Go to your local clerk of courts with these documents and tell them what you want. Also, if you have a passport, that will also need to be fixed. You don’t need a lawyer. The county clerk should be able to help you. Oh oh!!! Here!!!

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