2017 and 2016 Illinois Family Law Updates

DuPage County Divorce Lawyers

2017 Changes to Illinois Child Support Laws

In July 2017, a new law went into effect governing how child support is calculated in Illinois. Prior to this change, the amount of child support payments from a non-residential parent to a residential parent was based solely on a percentage of the non-residential parent’s income. The new law uses an income-sharing plan which takes both parents’ incomes into consideration and also takes each parent’s amount of parental responsibility and parenting time into account.

2016 Changes to Child Custody and Visitation Laws

Several new laws regarding family law, divorce, and child custody went into effect January 1, 2016. These laws make particularly sweeping changes in terms of “child custody,” mainly by eliminating the term altogether and requiring divorcing parents to implement parenting plans to determine the legal and physical designations of the child. General grounds for divorce have also been eliminated, and changes to parental relocation laws have been significantly altered, among other things. These changes represent the biggest transformation to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act in decades. If you have questions about how these changes may affect you and your family in a pending or new divorce, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney today.

New Laws to Be Aware of in Illinois

“Child Custody”

Deeming “custody” to be too harsh of a term, “parenting plans” will now dictate how and when a child will divide his or her time between parents. The parenting plan is to be submitted and ideally agreed upon by both parties together, within a certain time frame after filing for divorce and division of parenting responsibilities. This parenting plan must specifically allocate responsibilities to each parent pertaining to the educational, financial, medical, residential, religious, and extra curricular activities for the child. The plan must indicate who is responsible for each of these important functions (it can be both) and it must be considered reasonable given the best interests of the child for the court to deem it acceptable.

If the court does not agree with the parenting plan, it must make a written finding as to why they disagree, meaning the courts strongly favor couples being able to come to an amicable resolution regarding the parenting plan outside of court. If they are unable to do so, the court will make a determination of these categories based on the best interests of the child, largely determined by the desires of all parties involved, the financial status of each parent, the desires of the child, the past relationship of the child with each parent, the mental and physical maturity and needs of the child, health and educational considerations, and anything else deemed relevant to protect the interests of the child in the long and short term.

“No Fault” Divorce

Traditionally, in order for a divorce to be granted, it had to be “based” on something, whether it be adultery, drunkenness, abandonment, or mental or physical cruelty. While some of these bases may underlie modern divorce petitions, there is no longer a specific fault-based requirement for divorce in the State of Illinois. Illinois has now joined the vast majority of other states in offering “no fault” grounds for divorce. In order to have a basis for divorce in Illinois, a party to the marriage must prove that “irreconcilable differences have caused an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” and that previous attempts to reconcile have been “futile” and that future attempts “would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.” Irreconcilable differences can be established through courtroom testimony or specific instances of conduct, but this is most easily established if the couple has been living separately and continuously for at least a six-month period prior to the filing. By establishing irreconcilable differences, the court saves the time of having to make specific findings pertaining to this preliminary matter; thus, it is in your best interest to employ the services of a knowledgeable family law attorney who can help you move your divorce through the court as quickly and amicably as possible.

Custodial Parents Moving With Children

Custodial parents will now have an easier time moving to a new geographic location. Current Illinois law makes it burdensome to move out of state, without considering the vast Illinois border. Prior to January 1, 2016, a custodial parent could move wherever he or she desired with the child within the boundary of Illinois, but would have to petition and obtain permission to move out of state. Instead, the new law dictates moves purely by distance; parents in many counties (including Cook, DuPage, and Kane) will be able to move within 25 miles from their residence, even if this puts them outside of the state border. Further distances will require petitioning the court as before and will require the court to determine whether the move is in the best interest of the child, particularly when the move is contested by the other parent.

Contact a Wheaton Divorce Lawyer

Even if you and your spouse are just considering divorce or separation, it is important to understand how some of the new Illinois law may affect the process. Most of the laws aim to make it a quicker process, providing opportunities for increased cooperation and agreement between the divorcing couple. Sometimes, the marriage has reached a point where this seems all but impossible. If you need help navigating the terms of your divorce settlement or have questions about your legal rights or responsibilities as a party to a divorce, you are not alone. Contact a skilled DuPage County family law attorney at one of Abear Law Offices’ five convenient Chicago area locations for more information today.

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