The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act is undergoing significant changes beginning in 2016 that eliminate fault-based grounds for divorce, allow for expedited contested divorces, and aim to revamp custody arrangements. These modifications aim to improve the efficiency and timeliness of divorce filings for both contested and uncontested divorces.
One of the biggest changes to the law is that drunkenness, mental cruelty, abandonment and other prior grounds for divorce are eliminated. The Act (750 ILCS 5/) previously listed 10 fault-based grounds (including irreconcilable differences) as legitimate grounds for divorce. As of January 1, 2016, the only grounds for divorce are that “irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and the court determines that efforts at reconciliation have failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.” A judge must find that a couple meets this criteria in order to grant a divorce. A couple living apart for more than six months creates an irrebuttable presumption that the requirement that irreconcilable differences has been met. This standard may be met by showing that the couple has lived separately for at least six months or that something else in the marriage constitutes irreconcilable differences.
Additionally, the archaic terms of “custody” and “visitation” have been replaced with “allocation of parenting responsibilities.” The new law requires the marital children’s parents to submit a proposed parenting plan in order to better delineate the responsibilities of each parent post-divorce. Instead of thinking of everything in terms of “joint,” “sole,” or “shared” custody, courts will now “assign different child care responsibilities to each parent” to ensure a more active role in the child’s life.
Another change in the law is surrounding fair market value and property division. Nearly all income, assets, accounts, and property acquired during the course of the marriage is considered marital property; marital property is something that each spouse has a right to coming out of the marriage. The new Illinois law will use a fair market value standard in determining the worth of certain property. If necessary, a third-party financial expert may be utilized, and the fees for this expert will be split between the parties.
The veteran family law attorneys at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. will push to protect your legal rights and ensure that you are allocated ample responsibilities for the care of your children. Even though divorce settlements may be modified, it is best to have your settlement completed the first time around, to avoid future litigation and additional expenses. Contact our convenient Naperville family law office at (630) 756-5112 or fill out the online contact form to learn more about your legal options and begin the process of finalizing your divorce.