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Should You Change Your Child’s Name After Your Divorce?

 Posted on February 13, 2017 in Divorce

DuPage County family law attorneyToday, it is estimated that approximately 90 percent of women take their husband’s last name when they get married. Some may choose to hyphenate both names or to keep their maiden names, but the practice, at this point, is centuries old and some traditions can be difficult to break. Whatever your thoughts may be on women taking their husbands’ last names in marriage, it is relatively easy for a woman to change her name back in the event of divorce. Most divorce proceedings—at least in Illinois—allow a woman to legally resume using her former name without a separate court filing.

Children, however, are a different story. Changing a minor child’s last name after a divorce can be much more difficult and typically involves an entirely new court proceeding.

What the Law Says

When a person is an adult, he or she is presumed to have the appropriate capacity to make decisions for him- or herself. Legally changing your name is one example of such a decision. If you decide to change your name, that is up to you, and you have to the right to change it whenever you see fit, including after a divorce. Changing your child’s name is not quite so simple. If your child is still a minor and you wish to change his or her name, you may need to take your matter before the court. According to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, a name change for a minor child will only be permitted if you provide clear and convincing evidence that the change is in the child’s best interest.

Practical Application

So, what does that mean and how does it work? In practice, if you and your ex-spouse—assuming you are the child’s two legal parents—agree on the name change, there is a good chance that the court will approve your request. If you and the other parent do not agree, you will need to demonstrate why you believe the change is best for the child. Depending on your child’s age and maturity, the court will also take into account how your child feels about the prospective change.

You must also be sure that your parenting plan gives you the authority to make important decisions regarding your child. An Illinois appeals court recently ruled against a mother who sought to change her children’s last name without the father’s consent. The name change was denied because the couple’s parenting arrangement specified that they were to share decision-making authority equally and the mother filed the petition for a name change without consulting the father.

Seek Legal Guidance

If you have recently finalized your divorce and have questions about changing your child’s name, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-352-2240 for a free consultation at Pesce Law Group, P.C. today.


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