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Will Missouri Make it Easier to Change Your Name After a Divorce?

Posted by Joshua Wilson | Jan 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

new law in Illinois will make it easier for spouses to change their name after a divorce. The law in Illinois used to require individuals petitioning for a name change to publish a notice in the newspaper. Missouri still has a publication requirement for a name change after a divorce. Will Missouri make a similar change to allow an exception to the publication requirement for divorce name changes?

If you have any questions about filing for divorce and protecting your rights and interests, contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm in Raymore, Missouri.

Name Change Options Upon Divorce

There are a number of reasons why a divorced individual (primarily the wife) will want a name change after a divorce. In a contentious break-up, the spouse may want to have nothing to do with their former partner, including carrying their name. However, even if amicable separations, the spouse may not feel the connection to their married name and want to go back to their maiden name. 

Changing your name after a divorce can be more complicated than a name change upon marriage. There may be a number of other changes that have to be made after a name change, including changing documentation for employment, passports, property ownership, taxes, utilities, and so on. 

Another complication of a name change involves children. Even if a spouse wants to change their last name, they may just keep the married name for continuity with the last name of their children. 

Changing Your Name in a Missouri Divorce 

There are a couple of ways to change your last name in a Missouri divorce. The simplest way is to make sure the name change is part of the marriage petition. As part of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, there is a box to check for a name change, “Change my name to my former name of…” By requesting the name change as part of the divorce, there is no additional process the petitioner needs to complete. When the judge grants the divorce, the name change will be part of the court order. 

Some divorcing individuals are not sure about a name change or don't think about changing their name when filing for divorce. Changing your name after a divorce will be a separate process through the courts to “Petition for Change of Name.” This involves: 

  1. Filing of a verified petition;
  2. Possible hearing;
  3. Entry of judgment; and
  4. Publication.

As part of the name change process, upon receipt of the judgment, the petitioner must make public notice of the name change at least once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which they live. The individual must also file proof of notice in the Office of the Clerk within 10 days after the date of the last publication.  

Illinois New Name Change Law

In Illinois, when an individual wanted to change their name, they had to pay for a legal notice in a newspaper as part of the court name change process. However, there was an exception when the petitioner had a court-issued marriage certificate. The new law includes an additional exception when the petitioner has a divorce judgment. 

Illinois Sen. Cristina Castro said she was inspired to sponsor the legislation after hearing complaints from a divorced friend. According to Castro, “When you're going through a divorce, the last thing you want is a personal experience like this to be out in the paper. Then something very personal becomes very public.”

Other states may follow and provide exceptions to the publishing requirement after a divorce. For now, Missouri residents filing for divorce should make sure the name change request is made with the divorce petition so the name change is part of the divorce. 

About the Author

Joshua Wilson

Divorce is complex and highly emotional. Everything is going to change, including your most important personal relationships, your finances, your daily routine, and -- of course -- your home life. This can be a stressful time, and the parties involved often are not thinking clearly. You need some...

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