“Survivors of domestic violence often seek to relocate and change their name to begin a new life free from their abuser,” Halpin said. “If the abuser is not behind bars, public notification of a name change increases the likelihood of being tracked by that person and continually abused.”

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, is backing legislation that would expand protections for survivors of domestic abuse and stalking by allowing them to legally change their name without leaving a paper trail that can be followed by an abuser.

“Survivors of domestic violence often seek to relocate and change their name to begin a new life free from their abuser,” Halpin said. “If the abuser is not behind bars, public notification of a name change increases the likelihood of being tracked by that person and continually abused.”  

Under current law, notice of filing of a name change petition must be published in the newspaper for three weeks. Halpin is a chief sponsor of Senate Bill 2330, which allows the publishing requirement to be waived if the individual wishing to change his or her name is a survivor of domestic violence. The bill received bipartisan support in the House Judiciary - Civil Committee on Tuesday.   

“The publishing requirement is intended to prevent people from changing their name for fraudulent purposes, but it has the unintended consequence of jeopardizing the safety of survivors of domestic abuse,” Halpin said. “This legislation brings Illinois up to speed with 21 other states that allow the publication requirement to be waived in order to protect survivors from future violence.”

To learn more about the warning signs of abuse or to receive confidential support from a trained advocate, call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).