I don't know who I am any more
October 7, 2010 12:51 PM Subscribe
In the US (Illinois, specifically) I changed my name legally, or so I thought. Now it appears the name change may not have happened. How can I confirm beyond a doubt whether the name change legally exists or not, and if not, what's next?
posted by davejay to law & government (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Roughly a decade ago, I changed my name in Chicago, and began using that name for all personal and professional business. Now I need a copy of the paperwork so I can renew my expired passport (which has my old name), and nice/helpful as they were, nobody in Chicago or Springfield seems to have a record of the change. So far I've spoken with Vital Records in Springfield, the Circuit Court in Chicago, and Vital Statistics in Chicago; nobody can find a record in my old name at all, and the only hit for my new name has a *very* different old name attached.
Relevant to the question about whether or not the legal change actually happened: I paid a fee, I filled out a form, I stood in line in a storefront in Chicago, and I submitted the paperwork I received to the DMV to get my license changed. I began using the new name immediately, and shortly thereafter moved to California, obtaining credentials under the new name. Since then I've opened bank accounts and credit lines, bought cars, taken out mortgages, and paid many, many bills using the new name -- so that's what my credit report shows. Of all the paperwork in my possession, only my social security card and passport have the old name. I do not remember if I sent the name change paperwork to the social security folks back in 1999.
So, the first question: are there any other places I should be calling in Chicago/Illinois to see if there's a record of the change?
The second question: if there's no record, does my 10+ year history of consistent name usage give my name change any kind of legal standing, or have I been unintentionally using a fake name all this time?
The last question: if there's no record and no legal standing from my 10+ years of usage...what now? Should I be attempting to change it legally in Illinois? In California? Should I not attempt to change it, and start trying to move all my paperwork (including mortgages and bank accounts) back to my old name? Is there a name for the type of lawyer who specializes in this?
All knowledge sharing appreciated, except "you should have kept a copy of the paperwork", because this I already know.