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What are Some of the Major Changes to the Divorce Act as of January 1, 2016?

By Maxine Weiss Kunz

divorce act, Illinois law changes, Skokie divorce lawyerMany changes are coming to family law as of January 1, 2016. These changes include changes to custody (a term of art that is going out the window) as well as changes to financial aspects of the act. Below are a list of some of the major changes that will be in effect as of January 1, 2016:

  • No more use of the word “custody” is the big claim to fame with the new Act. Instead, the court will decide on Allocation of Parental Responsibility. These allocations include who will make decisions related to a child’s health, education, religion and extracurricular activities. One or both parents can be assigned each of the 4 categories of decision making.
  • No more use of the word “visitation” either. Now we will call this category “parenting time.” The term of art is considered more user friendly.
  • No more double trials (we hope). What this means is that temporary support hearings will be heard on a non-evidentiary basis with few exceptions. You will no longer have to call a witness in temporary support hearings. The court will make temporary decisions based on financial affidavits and argument of counsel. There are exceptions to this rule, which will likely apply if a litigant’s financial affidavit is called into question.
  • No more fault grounds. (See our prior blog on this topic). Only the grounds of irreconcilable differences may be plead and the requirement of 2 years of separation is also to become moot. If the parties cannot agree on the date of breakdown of their marriage, then a separation of 6 months will now be required instead of the prior requirement of 2 years.
  • No more heavy dependence on caselaw. Many of the prior cases relied on by the courts have been codified, including the rule that you cannot strike a motion with a motion. (This is legalese that lawyers will understand and many litigants will not.)
  • No more use of the word “removal” if you want to move out of State with a child. Courts will now call this term “relocation” and it is based on mileage (i.e., 25 miles for Chicago-area, 50 miles for less urban areas) instead of crossing State lines. That also means that you can no longer move from Chicago to Peoria without Court permission – a distinct change to in-State litigants. If you want to move to the “Boonies” you may want to do it now.
  • No more reliance on terms such as “mother” and “father” in the Parentage Act, which is an acknowledgement of the rights of same-sex couples and their children.
  • No more pleading of injunction merits in a request for exclusive possession of a marital home, however, the requirement of a spouse or child being jeopardized by continued occupancy of the litigant you are seeking to remove remains.

All of the within laws become effective as of January 1, 2016 irrespective of when your pleading was filed if your matter remains pending at that time. Any matter resolved prior to January 1, 2016 shall follow the current laws and are valid agreements. A discussion point to have with your attorney is whether to get your matter resolved now, under the current laws, or to seek to finalize your matter in year 2016.

For more information about how this could affect your divorce, contact our Skokie, Illinois family law attorneys at Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC. Our experienced lawyers will help you decide what options are best for you.

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