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Understanding the 2016 Changes to Illinois Divorce Laws

In 2015, several amendments to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act were proposed that were put into effect on January 1, 2016. The key changes were the elimination of fault-based grounds for divorce, the waiting period before divorce, the determination of child custody and visitation, and other issues. If you are contemplating to file for a divorce, it is essential that you have a general idea about these changes and how they may affect your case.

Grounds for Divorce

Before Senate Bill 57 was passed, courts considered both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. With the new law, only one ground for divorce is left for Illinois residents, i.e. irreconcilable differences. This means that the breakdown of marriage was not the fault of either spouse, and that it simply did not work between them.

Waiting Period

Previously, spouses have to be separate for 2 years before they can file for divorce. But with 2016 changes to divorce law, this waiting period has been eliminated. The new guidelines require parties to stay separated for 6 months, and they can do so by living under same roof. They just have to prove that they were living separate and apart while sharing the same house. This means that all they have to do is stop living as husband and wife, separate their household expenses, and continue this until the separation period is over.

Child Custody and Visitation Rights

Before 2016, terms custodial parent and non-custodial parent were used to define which party has the custody of children and which party had the responsibility of paying child support and received visitation rights. However, legal terminology has been changed and now allocation of parental responsibilities is used instead of custody and parenting time in place of visitation.

The purpose of this change is to allow both parents a fair amount of parenting time and divide responsibilities between them pertaining to crucial life decisions on behalf of their children. They are divided into four categories, namely, education, medical, extra-curricular, and religious. These responsibilities are assigned based on what role each parent used to play in the children’s life.

Changes Regarding Parent’s Relocation

Before the changes to the IMDMA, divorcing parents could move anywhere within Illinois without having to get approval from court about relocation – only relocating to another state requires taking permission. With the new statute, if a party is moving more than 25 miles away from the other party, they need to get approval from court. This applies to both in-state and out-of-state moves. If the party is relocating outside a metropolitan area, they can move 50 miles within the state without a court order.

Divorce is a complex process that can have lasting effects on one’s life. It is best to work with an experienced, compassionate, and reliable attorney who can help you understand your rights and the law and provide skilled legal counsel for your divorce matters. Contact Dan Walker Law Office today at 630-920-8800 to schedule an initial consultation and discuss your case.

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