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What You Should Know About Changing Your Child’s Name After a Divorce

Posted on in Child Custody

St. Charles IL family law attorneyFollowing a divorce, if you had previously assumed the surname of your spouse, you have the option of returning to your birth or maiden name. This request can be included in a divorce petition, and it will typically be approved by the judge.

To change your name later on, or to change the last names of your children, a separate court order must be filed. Changing the names of your children you had with your ex-spouse is more complicated than changing your own, and having an attorney with experience in name change cases can help immensely.

Name Changes for Minor Children

According to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5), a request to change a minor’s name will be approved only if a judge finds that changing the child’s name is necessary to serve the child’s best interests. This means that the name change will not automatically be approved simply because you want your child to share your last name. The Illinois Parentage Act (750 ILCS 46) also contains a provision that allows a name change for a minor if both of the child’s parents agree to the change, but this statute is usually reserved for cases involving unmarried parents or if the child’s parentage is disputed.

In determining if the name change is necessary to serve the child’s best interests, a judge will consider all potential factors, including but not limited to:

  • Whether the child wishes to change his or her name, with the child’s maturity and understanding taken into account

  • How significant decision-making authority has been allocated between the parents

  • The wishes of both parents regarding the name change, if both parents have decision-making authority

  • The child’s adjustment to their school or community

  • The relationship between the child and each parent

After taking the entirety of the circumstances into consideration, a judge may still reject the name change because it is not necessary to serve the best interests of the child. This is also true for the proposition of a hyphenated last name, but those are more likely to be granted. Extreme circumstances such as abandonment of the child or abuse may have different results.

How to Change Your Child’s Name

To begin a name change, you need to file a request with the court. This can be done online as an electronic filing, which most counties allow, or at the courthouse. After filing, the clerk will give you a hearing date, which should be within eight weeks of the date of filing. The other parent should be alerted that you are requesting a name change for your child. This can be in person or via certified mail to their last known address. If the location of the parent is unknown, then a legal notice in a newspaper must be placed regarding the hearing date. In Illinois, this must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks. At the name change hearing, a judge will listen to the arguments of both parties, as applicable, and grant or deny the request for a name change.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

Since name changes of minors after divorce are often discouraged by the court, it is important to work with an experienced Kane County family law attorney from Goostree Law Group to help guide you through the process. To learn more about how we can help you obtain the result you desire, call our office at 630-584-4800 for a free consultation.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=073500050K21-101

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=3638&ChapterID=59

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