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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700

Oak Brook Illinois Marriage & Dissolution of Marriage Act Attorney

Willowbrook child support law changes attorney

DuPage County Divorce Attorney Explains Recent Changes in the IMDMA

Anyone seeking a divorce in Illinois after January 1, 2016 must navigate the new divorce laws. For the first time in over 30 years, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) was overhauled in an effort to make divorce seem less adversarial. Many parts of the Act have been amended, including grounds for divorce, maintenance (formerly known as alimony), allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as child custody), and parenting time (formerly known as visitation). The changes to IMDMA are designed to lessen the conflict that typically occurs in divorce proceedings by changing the "winners and losers" mentality.

Illinois Child Support Changed July 1, 2017

The IMDMA was updated again in 2016 to revise the method used to calculate child support. Under the new law, courts will determine the amount that parents would have spent to care for their children if they had remained married, with this amount being based on the parents' combined net income and the number of children. This amount is known as the Basic Support obligation, and each parent will be responsible for a percentage of the obligation depending on what percentage their net income contributes toward the combined income. The non-custodial parent will typically pay their portion of the obligation to the custodial parent; however, in cases when children stay overnight with each parent at least 40% of the time, additional calculations will be required to divide the obligation between parents based on each parent's percentage of overnight stays. These changes when into effect on July 1, 2017.

Heart Balm Actions

Beginning January 1, 2016, certain causes of actions were eliminated. The right to sue over so called "heart balm" actions such as breach of promise to marry, alienation of affection, and adultery was abolished. The reasons behind the amendment to the law stems from the change in the rights of men and women, historically, as well as the desire to promote amicable settlements in divorces. These types of heart balm actions are contrary to the underlying purpose of the IMDMA and often are used as a harassment tool, causing unnecessary friction and animosity in the divorce process.

Grounds for Divorce

Under the new law, most grounds for divorce are eliminated. Beginning January 1, 2016, it is no longer necessary to plead and prove fault based grounds in order to obtain a divorce. The grounds of adultery, abandonment, extreme and repeated mental cruelty, and other fault grounds no longer exist. Rather, the only grounds that remain is the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences.

Waiting Period for Divorce

Prior to the enactment of the changes to the IMDMA on January 1, 2016, parties who desired to be divorced based upon the grounds of irreconcilable differences were required to live separate and apart from their spouse for two years, unless both parties agreed to shorten that period to six months.

Now, the parties are required to live separate and apart for a mere six months prior to the entry of the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. And, for so long as the parties have been separated for the six months immediately preceding the entry of the Judgment, irreconcilable differences have been proven.

Property Division

Many of the modified terms and provisions of the IMDMA reflect a codification of case law that has been amassed in Illinois over the years. The rules regarding the characterization of the property owned by the parties as either marital, non-marital, or mixed have been updated and clarified so as to be more easily applied by the Courts. These changes are designed to make the allocation of property between the parties more predictable, thereby promoting amicable settlements.

Maintenance

In 2015, the IMDMA section on maintenance or spousal support was changed dramatically. At the time, new statutory guidelines were put into place designating a formula for the computation of the amount of maintenance to be paid by one spouse to the other, and for how long those payments should last. Again, these changes were designed to enhance the predictability of Court's rulings on the subject, thereby reducing the frequency of hearings on the issue.

New to the law in 2016 is the correction of the guidelines as they relate to the length of the marriage. Prior to January 2016, the law was not clear as to how long maintenance would last when the parties had been married for five years, 10 years, or 15 years. Since then, the law has been revised so that awarding maintenance becomes even more predictable.

Child Custody and Visitation

Under the new law, the terms "custody" and "visitation" have been replaced as they relate to parents. Rather, the term "parental responsibilities" replaces "custody," And "visitation" is now referred to as "parenting time". "Visitation" still exists as it relates to time spent between a child and a sibling, grandparent, or step-parent. In fact, the rights of these "non-parents" have been expanded under the new law, recognizing that the children of divorced parents have often developed significant relationships and ties with other persons besides their parents, and that denying them access to these other persons is not in the children's best interests.

Parental Relocation

Previously, the parent who had residential custody of a child or children was able to move anywhere in the state that they wished, often resulting in the need for additional litigation to modify visitation schedules. Under the new law, if a parent lives in Will, McHenry, Lake, Kane, DuPage, or Cook counties, they can move as far as 25 miles from their current residence with without first seeking and obtaining the approval of the move from the other parent or receiving a Court Order permitting the move. Parents who live in other Illinois counties can move up to 50 miles within the state. The new laws also simplified parental relocation across state borders, as well, providing that a parent may now move across state lines to Indiana or Wisconsin, for example, without first seeking the approval of the Courts, so long as the new residence is within 25 miles of the current residence.

Contact a Downers Grove Divorce Lawyer

These are just a few of the changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act that have occurred since January 1, 2016. We at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. have trained extensively in the new laws. If you are going through a divorce, you need an experienced DuPage County divorce and family law attorney who will help you navigate the newly enacted and complex divorce laws. Call 630-472-9700 today for your free initial consultation. Serving Oak Brook, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Wheaton, Burr Ridge, and surrounding areas.

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