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Can I Change My Child’s Last Name After My Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Family Law

McHenry County family lawyerWhen a couple gets married, it is not at all uncommon for a spouse to take her partner’s last name as a symbol of their union. Some partners choose to hyphenate their surnames so as to keep their own identity while adding their spouse’s name to theirs. When a marriage comes to an end, it is relatively easy—and usually part of the standard divorce paperwork—for a spouse who changed her name to change it back during the proceedings. But, what about the children of a divorcing couple? It turns out that changing the name of a minor child in Illinois may be more complicated than most people realize.

What Does the Law Say?

Most legal details surrounding marriage and divorce are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5), but name changes are typically made in accordance with the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5). The statute provides that changing the name of a minor child will only be approved if the court finds “by clear and convincing evidence that the change is necessary to serve the best interest of the child.” A separate provision in the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 (750 ILCS 46) allows for a child’s name to be changed if both parents agree, though this law is typically utilized in cases of unmarried parents or when parentage is in question.

Considerations of the Court

According to the law, when considering a name change for a minor child, the court is required to take into account all of the relevant factors of the case, including:

  • Each parent’s wishes and those of any other appropriate person filling the role of a parent to the child.

  • The child’s wishes, as appropriate based on age and maturity.

  • The relationships and interactions the child shares with parents, step-parents, siblings, step-siblings, and any other person who may affect the child’s best interests.

  • How the name change, or lack thereof, may affect the child’s well-being and comfort at home, in school, or the community at large.  

A recent appellate court ruling on a case from DuPage County upheld the trial court’s decision to refuse a mother’s request to change her children’s last name pursuant to her divorce. Both the trial court and the appeals court determined that the mother’s petition was based primarily on her desire to have her maiden name added to the children’s current last name (her married surname) and not on any convincing proof that the change served the children’s best interests.

Contact a Crystal Lake Divorce Lawyer for Help

If you have recently gotten divorced and are thinking about petitioning for your child’s name to be changed, an experienced McHenry County family law attorney can assist you in building a case. Call 630-584-4800 to speak with a member of the team at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, and get the assistance you need.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=073500050HArt%2E+XXI&ActID=2017&ChapterID=56&SeqStart=124600000&SeqEnd=125200000

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=0

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

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2016/2ndDistrict/2160594.pdf

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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