Big Changes in Illinois Family Law

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was significantly modified effective January 1, 2016.  The changes to the law apply to both pending and new cases.  Some of the key changes:

Grounds for Divorce and the Separation Period:

Fault on behalf of one of the spouses no longer needs to be shown.  Instead, the parties need only allege irreconcilable differences.  Also, a lengthy period of separation no longer needs to exist.  These changes streamline the divorce process and help speed up the time it takes to get divorced once the parties decide they can no longer make their relationship work. 

Temporary Child Support and Spousal Maintenance:

A full evidentiary hearing is no longer required.  A judge may grant temporary child support and spousal maintenance on a summary basis, thereby saving time and expense for both the court and the litigants.

Parenting Agreements:

The new law requires parties to enter into and submit a parenting agreement to the court within 120 days of filing for divorce.  Currently, a court must make a decision related to custody within eighteen months of filing.  This will now be accomplished much quicker.

 Calculating Child Support: 

The new law allows the payer of child support to deduct student loan payments in calculating his or her net income.  It also limits the amount of tuition and room and board that must be paid to the costs of attendance of a state school and need only be paid until the child’s 23rd birthday unless good cause is shown.  Also, tuition need not be paid if the child is not making good progress towards a degree.   

Child Custody:

The new law eliminates the terms joint or sole legal custody, residential custody, and visitation and replaces those terms with parental responsibilities and parenting time”  Decisions related to these issues are still governed by the best interest of the child standard.

A parent with at least 50% parenting time with the children is also now able to relocate from Illinois using an expedited procedure.   Further, the new law permits a parent with at least 50% parenting time to relocate up to 25 miles from their residence without notice (in Cook and collar counties) and up to 50 miles in other counties. 

These changes can have a significant impact upon you and your family.  Don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance.

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