The Chicago Family Law Blog

How to Change Your Name During and After a Divorce

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You've been free of his lies and treachery for months. Your divorce is about to be processed. Unfortunately, much like that filthy STD that his "secretary" gave him and he shared with you, something about him remains as a semi-permanent reminder of the pain: his last name.

You've considered keeping it. After all, it's been your last name for some time now. All of your vital records, your professional license, and even your birth certificate are now under your married name. Nonetheless, every time you sign that seven- (or however many) lettered abomination, you become nauseated.

It's time to move on.

If you haven't begun legal divorce proceedings, or they are still pending, discuss the matter with your attorney. It should be as simple as changing your name in your divorce decree.

After that, take a certified copy of the divorce decree with you to the DMV, Social Security office, and any other agency you need to get new copies of everything with your new legal name.

But if you waited too long and your divorce is already finalized, you can still file a petition to change your name. There is a filing fee, some paperwork, and a required newspaper ad. Yep, you'll have to run an ad in the paper for three weeks telling the public that you are going to change your name.

Note that if you have been convicted of a felony, a sex crime, or identity theft, you'll have to consult a lawyer for more information. According to the Illinois Legal Aid Society, most people with these offenses on their records cannot change their names unless at least 10 years has lapsed since their case was wrapped up.

So there it is. Erasing the brand of your ex-spouse's legacy from your signature is as simple as that. Choose your new name wisely. Just remember, Metta World Peace is already taken.

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