2016 Updates to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act: What You Need to Know
1977 was an exciting year. Star Wars was released. Hotel California by the Eagles was a big hit. Horse racing’s Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew captured the public’s adoration. Roots, the novel was widely read. 1977 also marked the last major revision of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). On January 1, 2016, new legislation went into effect in Illinois. Our society has changed greatly in the years since the 1970’s. Many of those societal changes are reflected in the revised IMDMA.
The revisions to this statute truly are major. Many key aspects of the law have been changed. For example, the terms “custody” and “visitation” have been replaced with the allocation of “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” By today’s standards it does seem a bit cold and antiquated to term the time a parent spends with their child as “visitation”. The statute changes are aimed at making a highly contentious matter less antagonistic. The allocation of parental responsibilities, as opposed to the custody provision in the old IMDMA, is more flexible and wider in its scope as it considers many more activities than its predecessor in the old statute. The revised law now requires parents to file a parenting plan with the court within one hundred and twenty days of filing their divorce. The new law also details what needs to be included in the plan.
There is now only one ground for divorce in Illinois, irreconcilable differences. On the surface, this change does not seem to be a profound change as the great majority of Illinois divorces have proceeded under the grounds of irreconcilable difference for years. What will matter is that the waiting period to obtain a divorce has been reduced. If you and your spouse agree, you can get divorced without having to first be separated for any period of time.
The law regarding moving with your children (this is now called Relocation but was formerly known as Removal) is a notable change to the IMDMA. The new law significantly limits a parent’s ability to move within Illinois with the children, absent the other parent’s consent. New rights for non-parents helps family members that once were deemed outside the “traditional” family model are also built into the new act.
Sections of the act including: Interim attorney’s fees, temporary relief, timing of judgments, child support, educational expenses for non-minor children, property provisions, standard forms and maintenance have all been updated to reflect the dramatic changes we’ve seen in society and family dynamics over the past thirty five years.
These are only some of the changes the legislature made to the law. Given the fact that the law is so new, and the courts have not had time to apply and interpret it yet, fighting over parenting issues in court right now is an even worse idea. No one can predict with certainty what will happen. Collaborative divorce gives couples a way to maintain much more control over their parenting plan.
It is important for any pursuing involved in divorce proceedings in Illinois to be aware of these changes in the law. For more information consult your attorney, financial advisors, mental health professionals, or other members of your divorce team.
Ted Hans, Von Hans Financial, LLC, www.vonhansfinancial.com