Effective January 1, 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was significantly revised. That was the first comprehensive revision since it first took effect October 1, 1977. Between then and the January date, the legislature tinkered with the Act changing certain parts of it almost annually. This is the first time in 37 years that there has been a complete revision.
This article will highlight some of the changes. Future articles will go into more detail.
One very important change is that Illinois now joins the ranks of no fault divorce states. The only legal reason required to end the marriage now is that the parties not live as husband and wife for 6 months, this could occur in the same house, and that there be irreconcilable differences that led to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Probably not living together as husband and wife for 6 months is an irreconcilable difference.
The words custody and visitation no longer exist in Illinois law. There is now something called an allocation of parental responsibilities concerning decisions and allocation of parental responsibility concerning parenting time. Under previous law, decisions were to be made concerning education, health care, and religion. Under the new law, it is those three plus extracurricular activities.
The method of computing child support has been changed also. One of the permitted deductions from gross income to arrive at net income for child support is the payment of maintenance, the Illinois word for alimony. There always was a question as to whether child support was figured first or maintenance was figured first. The Legislature has answered that question.
There was Appellate Court case law, but it was conflicting, on whether or not the payment of student loan payments were an appropriate deduction from gross income to arrive at net income for child support purposes. The new law says it is.
Concerning maintenance, based on a law that took effect January 1, 2015, there is now a statutory formula when previously there was none. For a family income of $250,000 or less, the formula is 30% of the payer’s gross income minus 20% of the payer’s net income. For spouses who are unemployed, seeking maintenance, the trial courts in Lake County, Illinois frequently impute minimum wage or $20,000 a year as income to that spouse unless that spouse is unable to work do to age, illness, or injury, or other disability.
Once the maintenance is set, if the maintenance payer also has to pay child support, then the amount of the maintenance is a permitted deduction from gross to arrive at net income for child support purposes.
Under previous law, the person with whom the children live primarily could live anywhere in the State of Illinois he or she wanted regardless of the wishes of the other parent. But, to move outside the State of Illinois required a court proceeding, if no agreement, to prove that the move is in the best interest of children. That was called removal. The name has been changed to relocation. In the collar counties, any move greater than 25 miles, and 50 miles in the rest of the State constitutes a relocation. There are certain statutory procedures and requirements that must be met before the move is permitted.
This is an overview and a brief summary of some of the changes. Future articles will deal with each of these in greater detail.