January 1, 2016 signaled not only the beginning of a new year, but it also means new changes in Illinois divorce laws. Many of the changes are seen by many as a positive step in adapting to modern family life in Illinois, including making child custody more flexible. With more than 800,000 divorces taking place each year in the United States, Illinois lawmakers hope the changes will make divorces less volatile, which can benefit both parties, as well as any children involved.
Sponsored by Democratic Illinois State Senators John Mulroe and Kelly Burke, Senate Bill 57 presented a revision of the decades old Dissolution of Marriage Act, which was first passed in 1977. One of the primary changes in the new law impacts how children are treated after a divorce.
The term, “custody” has been changed to “allocation of parental duties,” and “visitation” has been changed to “parenting time.” This will provide for a more flexible approach to how children spend time with each parent. In the past, sole or joint custody often mean a stricter schedule based on time spent. Now, the allocation of parenting time and responsibility can be separated into four separate categories, including: medical, education, extra-curricular and religious. Parents will divide responsibilities based on these areas, with a judge making the decision in the case of conflicts.
Another change takes note of how highly mobile modern families tend to be. Previously, a parent with custody could move anywhere in the state, but moving across state lines was more problematic. Now, a parent can move up to 25 miles across state lines, or up to 50 miles within the state. Other changes in terminology include removing the terms “husband” or “wife” from the laws, replacing them with the gender-neutral term “spouse.”
One of the most significant changes to Illinois divorce law is the elimination of any grounds for divorce except for “irreconcilable differences.” Previously, a party could indicate adultery, impotence, or habitual drunkenness, among other issues, as the reason why one party was seeking divorce. This made for the possibility of highly contentious separation battles right from the start. Now, irreconcilable differences is the only basis for seeking to dissolve a marriage.
Another change comes in the timeline for getting divorced. Previously, couples with irreconcilable differences had to show they had separated, living away from the other spouse for two years. Now that time has been shortened to only 6-months of living separately and apart for the divorce to go through.
The calculus for alimony has also changed. Spousal maintenance is now calculated as 30% of the the payer's gross income, minus 20% of the receiver's gross income, not to exceed 40% of their combined incomes.
If you are considering a divorce, or want to make changes to parenting time and responsibility terms, you should speak with your experienced Illinois divorce attorneys. The changes in Illinois divorce law may make a divorce less painful and costly than before. Contact the team of Benassi & Benassi, experienced Illinois divorce lawyers who have successfully represented their clients to get them and their families the best resolution possible.