1. Complete the child name change forms
You may need to complete the following forms to change your child's name:
- Request for Name Change (Minor Children): Gives the court information that is needed to decide if the name change can happen.
- Notice of Court Date for Request of Name Change (Minor Children): Tells the other parent you have filed a petition to change the name of a child with the court. The notice gives the current name of the child and the new name you want the child to be known by. It also says when your petition will be heard by a judge.
- Order for Change of Name (Minor Children): Filled out by the judge to say if your request to change the name of the child is granted or denied.
There is a fee to file most forms. The cost depends on the type of case you have and the county where you are filing. Contact your local circuit clerk's office for information on the fees.
If you do not have money to pay court fees, use the Application for Waiver of Court Fees program.Make 3 extra copies of each form once you have filled them out.
Now that you have filled out your forms, you need to file them with the clerk. The method you are required to use depends on the county where you are filing.
- E-filing: Some counties require you to file your forms and documents electronically. See E-Filing Basics for more information.
- Paper filing: If you can paper file or have an E-filing Exemption Certificate, take your completed forms to the circuit court clerk's office in the courthouse. See courthouse locations.
2. Get a hearing date for child's name change
- The clerk will give you a hearing date and time. Make sure the hearing date is at least 8 weeks after the date you file the forms at court;
- Write the hearing date and time on the Notice of Court Date for Request of Name Change (Minor Children); and
- Have the clerk also stamp the extra copies of your forms.
3. Notify the other parent of the child’s name change petition
If the other parent agrees to the name change and signs the Request for Name Change in front of a Notary, you can skip to step 4.
Send copy of Request for Name Change by certified mail
If the other parent is not going to sign the Request for Name Change, but you know where he or she lives, you can mail a copy of the Request for Name Change and the Notice of Court Date for Request of Name Change (Minor Children) to their address. You should mail these documents by USPS Certified Mail with return receipt requested (green card). If you do not know where the other parent lives, you must send a copy to the other parent's last known address.
Put notice in newspaper for a child name change
If you do not know where the other parent lives, you need to publish the notice in a newspaper. Contact a newspaper in your county and set up publication of the notice. You will need:
- One copy of your Request for a Name Change, including the court date, time, name of the judge, the courtroom number, and the case number;
- Your Order Waiving Publication Costs, if you got your publication fee waived or money to pay for publishing the name change in the newspaper if your fees were not waived
Get a certificate from the newspaper for a child name change
After your notice has run in the newspaper for 3 straight weeks, get a Certificate of Publication from the newspaper. Ask the paper how they will send it. They will:
- Send the certificate directly to the circuit clerk of court;
- Mail the certificate directly to you; or
- Tell you to pick up the document in person.
Take the Certificate of Publication to the courthouse and file it with the clerk before your court hearing. If the newspaper sends the certificate directly to the clerk, make sure it arrives before your court hearing and ask the newspaper to send you a copy.
4. Go to the child’s name change hearing
- Photo ID
- Stamped copies of Request for Name Change, Court Date for Request of Name Change, and Certificate of Publication
- Order for Name Change
- Other papers related to your child’s name change, like the green card that proves you told the other parent about the hearing)
Check-in quietly with the judge's clerk, court assistant, or court bailiff. Wait for your name and case number to be called. You may be placed under oath. Answer the judge's questions truthfully. The judge will either grant or deny your request. The judge will write this in the Order for Name Change and sign it.
- The child's full name, first, middle, and last
- The child's current address, including city and state
- The state or county where the child was born
- How long the child has lived in Illinois
- The full name, first, middle, and last, that you would like the court to give the child
- Why the name change is in the child's best interest
5. If the minor name change is granted
If your petition is granted, give the judge your Order for Change of Name form to be signed. Once the judge has signed it you must file it with the circuit clerk. You should get three (3) certified copies from the clerk's office usually for a small fee. You'll need these to change the child's birth certificate and social security card.
If the court approves your child's name change, you must change the child’s name on the birth certificate before the social security card. If your child was born in Illinois, you could change your child's birth certificate by mail with the Illinois Department of Public Health. You will need the following:
- A certified copy of the Order for Change of Name; and
- A copy of your child's old birth certificate.
Mail the certified order and a copy of your child's old birth certificate along with a $15.00 fee (payable by money order) to:
Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Vital Records
925 East Ridgely Ave.
Springfield, IL 62702-2737
Visit Vital chek
If your child was born in a state other than Illinois, contact the office that keeps birth records in that state to find out how to change the name on your child's birth certificate. To change your child’s social security card, go to the nearest social security office and fill out an application.
Bring the following documents with you:
- The child's new birth certificate;
- The child's old social security card; and
- A certified copy of the Order for Change of Name signed by the judge.
6. If the minor name change is denied
If your petition is denied because you made a mistake in the court process, then you may fix the error and ask for a new hearing. For example, if you did not properly notify the other parent, then you can ask for a new hearing after serving notice correctly.
Your petition could also be denied if the judge decides that the name change is not in the best interest of the child or if you don't have enough evidence to support your petition. If this happens, you cannot ask for a new hearing until the situation has changed around the request for a name change.
Whenever you lose in court, you have the right to ask the court to reconsider its decision or to file an appeal. You will have 30 days from the date of the judge's decision to do this.
Updated: January 2017