Divorce is a time of new beginnings for both spouses. For those who adopted a new last name during the marriage, a divorce may mark a time to return to the maiden name that he or she had before marrying.

Previously, Illinois law made it a tedious process for married women to go through with a name change. Recent legislative changes will make it significantly easier for women to change back to their maiden following a divorce.

Current process creates unnecessary headaches

Under current law, if divorced individuals want to change their names, they needed to publish a notification in the newspaper. This process, which primarily affected women, is highly intrusive of people’s privacy and is often a laborious process.

Beyond the time and unwanted attention, the person changing their name needed to pay the newspaper to publish the legal notice. The only exception is if the person received a court-issued marriage certificate. Another option is to ensure that the attorney includes the name change within the divorce decree.

How will this process change going forward?

SB1191 will help streamline this process and provide better privacy for individuals. Both houses passed the legislation in May before being signed by Gov. Pritzker on August 2.

The law, which will go into effect on January 1, 2020, contains two primary components:

  • People who received a divorce judgment or a declaration of an invalid marriage are no longer required to publish a notification of a name change if the person is switch to his or her maiden name.
  • If a divorce judgment authorizes an individual to return to using his or her maiden name after the divorce, that person is no longer required to file a petition for a name change under the Code of Civil Procedure.

Divorce is a challenging process for all parties involved, but at least the process of getting a name change will become significantly easier next year.