Back in 2000 when I got divorced, my attorney asked me if I wanted to take back Fiore as my last name. It didn’t take me long to say no because I did not want to create confusion for my 7 and 11 year old kids. I’ve worked in the public schools and it is just confusing for them and many, in my opinion. That was that. My attorney said nothing more.
After a time, I decided that once they were adults and or married, I would return to Fiore.
Fast forward: I began asking question last summer about how to go about changing my name back. I asked attorneys at first and was finding that the price tag started at $1000. Why in the world would it cost that much? I was asked by several, why didn’t I do it when I got divorced. I explained my reasoning and was told that I could have done it then but waited to change it with the SSA and driver’s license bureau when I was ready. Now is a fine time to find THAT out. Oh well. I wasn’t going to settle for $1000 to have an attorney do this for me so I ventured onto the World Wide Web for some answers. There are so many answers out there I figured this was a simple question and the answers should be there. I also asked advise from a former legal secretary, a couple of people that have their Juris Doctorate degree but aren’t practicing attorney’s, as well as my facebook friends. Boy, did I get answers! I found an awesome website that literally walked me through the process. One of my attorney friends recommended that site as well. I knew I was on my way! This site created those legal-looking forms that I needed to file.
Okay, so I had some answers, I had my forms, now I needed to find out the process itself. Well, I called the Circuit Clerk’s Office many times until I got all of the answers I needed. Every one I spoke to there told me that they could not give legal advice and that I could call Prairie State Legal services for legal advice. I told them (I called several times) that I was not asking them for advice. I wanted to know the procedure, basically, 1) who do I give these papers to, 2) when does it need to be in the paper, before or after, 3) how much will this cost me and who do I pay. Really, that is not advice but just procedural. I started getting answers and taking many notes. I took names and numbers so I would know who to call when I had more questions to get the right answers.
I found out that it would cost $151 to file the papers at the Circuit Clerk’s office. This had to be done before it went in the paper because the newspaper needed a document from the Clerk’s office. Are ya still with me? This is where it gets confusing. So I went to the court house with cash in handand my papers from that handy website. The gal at the Circuit Clerk’s office must have rolled her eyes a dozen times. I didn’t care…I was saving a significant amount of money by doing this myself. She didn’t like my paperwork. She handed me back papers that were not necessary and then she even printed off a form of her own and had me fill that one out instead. Fine with me. I got an eye roll when she asked if it had been published yet. I told her that I was told I had to file the petition here first. She took my money, some papers, gave me a receipt, and I was on my way to the Daily Journal.
When I got to the newspaper all was well until they wanted a copy of the petition with the “filed” stamp on it. I told her that they didn’t give me one because it needs to be published before it was filed. She said they always have to send people back to the court house for this paper. Oh, I about fell over when I paid the publication fee…$184.00! Yep! It had to run in the newspaper one day for three consecutive weeks. I really wish I had been sitting. I think the lady taking care of me heard my jaw hit her counter when she told me the price. Anyway, thank heavens for plastic because I wasn’t prepared for that price. I left at this point and went back to the courthouse to get the right paper. Yep, back to the eye roll gal. She couldn’t understand why the Journal needed that paper. She said we don’t have a date yet to put on it since it is not filed yet. Seems I was in a catch-22 but I was not leaving there until I got the form I needed. She reluctantly put that day’s date on it, stamped it, and sent me on my way. Back to the newspaper to turn in the correct form. She charged me that outrageous amount I mentioned before and I left.
I was on my way!! Woohoo!! The announcement was to run the next day (Thursday) and the next two Thursday’s. Before I left the Circuit Clerk’s office with the right paper I asked what my next step was. So after the announcement ran for the three times, I picked up the Publisher’s Certificate from the Journal on a Friday, March 2nd, and brought it to the Circuit Clerk’s Office. This trip was full of adventures! I started in the Circuit Clerk’s office, then was sent to Judge Albrecht’s Clerk on the first floor to get a court date. I got there and found out that Ardith is her clerk and she was in a court room. I went to the court room and no one was in there so I asked at the next court room where I could find Ardith. This gal said she is either in the court room next door or in her office. So back to her office I went hoping we had just passed each other in the hallway. Sure enough, her co-workers had just told her that I was looking for her. When she looked at my publisher’s certificate, she said that it was Judge Gerts that does these and sent me to Room 105 for his clerk. Oh my! I was determined so I smiled and headed for another office. After a short wait in this office I scheduled the court date for Judge Gerts to review my petition and make his ruling. I left with the date of March 27 at 1:30 in court room #104.
Now we wait two and a half weeks for a judge to tell me I could take back my maiden name. What choice did I have right? So I get to court at 1:20 on the 28th. Many colorful characters also had court in room #105 on the 27th at 1:30. There were even three that came in with orange jumpsuits on, handcuffs and ankle cuffs on. I simply wanted to take back my maiden name. Since there were attorneys present and detainees present, they got to go first. About 2:10 or so Judge Gerts called my case number and I approached the bench. That Judge Gerts, he’s a nice guy don’t let anyone tell you differentlyasked me a few questions and signed my petition. It was all done! He stated that I needed to get a certified copy from his clerk the next day to change my social security card, driver’s license, and other things. I told her I would see her tomorrow and I left the court room.
It was all official but I needed that proof. That piece of paper signed by Judge Ronald Gerts. I still needed that in my hot little hands. So I waited, what’s one more day in this journey that began mid-February. So on March 28th I ventured to the court house hoping this was my final visit to the circuit clerk’s office for my certified copy of the court order.
Eye roller gal: “That will be $12.”
Me: “Do you take debit?”
Eye roller gal: “No, cash only.”
Me: (sigh) “I’ll be right back.”
I went to Jewel and bought a can of Pringles and got cash back. All this running was on my lunch hour and needed some sort of sustenance. I felt that the Pringles was a yummy choice. I went back to the circuit clerk’s office with cash in hand. I kind of smiled when I realized the eye roller gal had gone to lunch, so a different gal took my cash, gave me a receipt, and the beloved certified copy of my legal name change that Judge Ron Gerts signed the previous day.
It was finished.