Thursday, July 2, 2015

New Divorce Statute Sitting on Governor’s Desk.

A divorce law has been circulating through the hallowed halls of our state legislature for quite some time with a re-write of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. In its current status, the law is called Senate Bill 57 and it would drastically change the 40+ year old divorce statute. If signed into law, some of the changes would:
  • Eliminate the “grounds” or reasons for a divorce like adultery and mental cruelty and keep a modified version of irreconcilable differences. Section § 401 provides that once the parties have lived separate and apart for six months, there would be no need to get mutual agreement that the marriage should happen, i.e. irretrievably broken down. With an agreement, there would be no waiting period. Without an agreement, that 6 month period applies.
  • Eliminate the idea of and even the word “custody”. Instead, a court granting custody to one parent with the other parent getting "visitation", the new law would have courts allocating “parental responsibility”. Responsibilities range from issues of education, health, religion, and extra-curricular and can be tailored to allow joint decision in some areas and not others. § 602.5(b). 
  • Change the “removal” provisions of the divorce statute that deals with a custodial parent moving from Illinois without permission of the other parent. Instead of "removal", the term would be "relocation” and instead of being triggered by leaving the state, it would be triggered by the parent with the “primary residence” moving more than 25 miles from the other parent. Specifically, parents with the primary residence in Cook and the collar Counties (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will) can move up to 25 miles from their current residence without permission from the court. Parents in counties outside of Cook and the collar counties could move up to 50 miles from their current residence without permission of a court. This also means a parent with primary residence can move up to 25 miles away even if the new residence is across the state line. This would eliminate the problem of the parent who got into trouble crossing the state line into Indiana but the parent who moved to Cairo, Illinois at 350 miles away is o.k.
  • Eliminate "Alienation of Affection" or “Heart Balm” civil suits against an in individual for having an affair with a married person.
  • Adds provisions to speed up the court’s decision in a case after the trial is over
  • Allows that when spousal maintenance (alimony) comes up for modification review after the divorce, the law also allows for setting a fixed period after which no more maintenance could be awarded. However, the marriage must have been less than 10 years for this to apply.
  • Maintenance would also automatically end if your former spouse remarried and requires that spouse to give notice of plans to remarry.
  • Sets up an automatic timeframe of 10 days for an unemployed parent owing support to notify the court and the other parent of their new job.