As the divorce process nears completion, clients often ask what needs to be done in order to legally revert to their maiden name. Requesting a name change after divorce is not an uncommon endeavor given that the majority of women in the United States choose to accept their husband’s family surname at the time of marriage. For those going through a divorce, it is important to make sure a few simple steps are covered in order to avoid wasted time and money down the road.
1. The Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage must have descriptive language that allows leave to resume the use of your maiden name when desired. It is recommended to include this language whether or not you have any immediate plans to request a name change after divorce. If this language is not included in the Judgment, changing your name in the future can be a major hassle. It requires filing a Petition for Name Change with the courts and going through an exhaustive list of requirements, including public notice, appearing before a judge, and obtaining a court order. With that said, it is always prudent to include a provision granting legal authority for a name change after divorce to avoid returning to court.
2. After the court enters a Judgment with the proper name change provision, there is still work to be done. The Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage must be certified by the County clerk in order for your Judgment to be recognized by a government agency. Get two certified copies, as you will need both of them. In most counties, the clerk’s office is located in the same building as the court so you won’t have to travel far.
3. With a copy of your certified Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage in hand, you are ready to obtain a new Social Security Card. You will need your certified Judgment, proof of identity (Driver’s License, State Issued ID Card, or Passport) and proof of U.S. Citizenship (Passport or Birth Certificate). Complete the application provided (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf) and mail or visit a Social Security office for submission.
4. Replacing your Driver’s License or ID Card requires similar procedure through the Secretary of State. All that is needed is your certified Judgment, proof of your signature and either a record of your date of birth, a record of your Social Security number or proof of residency. There are many accepted documents that will fulfill each of the individual aforementioned requirements. You can find the complete list on the Secretary of State website at cyberdriveillinois.com
5. With a new Social Security and State issued Identification card you are able to change your name with the post office, credit card companies, your employer, banks, and utility companies with ease.