Illinois divorce law was changed in 20181 through an amendment to Section 413 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Our divorce law had provided, “Upon request by a wife whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid, the court shall order her maiden name or a former name restored.”2
The 2018 amended language reads:
(c) Unless the person whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid requests otherwise, the judgment under this Section shall contain a provision authorizing the person to resume the use of his or her former or maiden name, should he or she choose to do so, at any time he or she chooses to do so.
This is why all divorce judgments since 2018 must contain similar language.
The law was further amended in 2020 by adding the following:
If a judgment contains such a provision, the person resuming the use of his or her former or maiden name is not required to file a petition for a change of name under Article XXI of the Code of Civil Procedure.
If a person whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid chooses to resume the use of his or her former or maiden name, he or she is not required to provide notice by publication pursuant to subsection (a) of Section 21-103 of the Code of Civil Procedure.3
The 2018 and 2020 amendments provide clarity to a statute that, based upon a strict reading, had required a party to either move to amend the divorce judgment or institute name change proceedings if the right to resume the use of a former or maiden name was not provided. Note that the new law is sex blind.
The information here is not technically correct. It provides that:
If you want to restore your maiden name after a divorce, include a name change request in your petition for dissolution of marriage.
This is not needed. All that’s necessary is the divorce judgment, which must provide this option.
That does not mean that a former spouse must change their name at any time in the future. It only provides that the divorcing spouse may change their name. Of course, some divorce decrees can incorporate a specific name change.
1Pub. Act 100-520 (eff. Jan. 1, 2018, per Pub. Act 100-520).
2750 ILCS 5/413(c) (2017).
3750 ILCS 5/413(c). Pub. Act 101-203 (eff. Jan. 1, 2020).