January 1, 2016 Illinois Family Law Changes

Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Saint Charles, IL

In early 2015, the Illinois legislature approved several measures aimed at bringing the state's family law provisions more up to date. The bills were signed by the governor in mid-summer, representing the most sweeping family law reforms in nearly four decades. Its passage was, to many, an official recognition of the shifting reality surrounding today's familial relationships, and that the existing laws were not meeting the needs of many families.

Breaking Down the Changes

The family law overhaul takes effect beginning January 1, 2016, and covers a wide variety of family concerns, including:

Divorce: A divorce will only be granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences and handled as a no-fault situation. "Fault" grounds, including adultery, abandonment, and mental or physical abuse are no longer considered. The two-year separation period once required for no-fault divorce has also been eliminated, and a six-month separation is only needed in contested cases as proof of irreconcilable differences. Overall, the changes provide a faster divorce process for most couples.

Child Custody: The language referring to sole and joint custody has been removed from the law and replaced with a new approach to caring for children following a divorce, separation, or breakup. The allocation of parental responsibilities will determine how the parents make significant decisions regarding the child's upbringing. The new law intends to reduce the combative nature of custody disputes and focus on the child's well-being. Preexisting custody orders may eventually need to be modified in compliance with the new guidelines, and our attorneys can help you along the way.

Visitation: As part of the custody reform, the new law also creates an updated understanding of parental visitation, now called "parenting time." This is meant to help parents—even those not granted significant decision-making responsibilities, to remember that they are not just visitors in the lives of their children, but parents with rights and duties. Non-parents may still seek visitation privileges in certain situations.

Child Removal and Parental Relocation: Until the new laws took effect, a custodial parent was only statutorily prohibited from moving with a child if the move took them out of Illinois. Going forward, a parent with primary residential responsibilities must seek the approval of the other parent or the court to move further than 25 miles from a home in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties, and further than 50 miles from a home in any other Illinois county. A move of less than 25 miles may be across state lines without prior permission.

Paternity: Perhaps the biggest acknowledgment of the modern family can be found in the repeal of the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984, and its replacement with the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015. The new law recognizes the rights of married parents of any gender and establishes several new presumptions of parentage. It also affords more protection to an existing parent-child relationship, even if an alleged biological parent attempts to assert his or her parentage.

There are a number of other, somewhat smaller changes that the family law reform has implemented, including clarifications to provisions regarding spousal maintenance, non-minor child support for college expenses, and the distribution of marital property.

Contact a Skilled Kane County Lawyer

At Olita Law Group, our attorneys constantly continue their education to be aware of the many new changes to the law and court rules. While the long-term impact of some legal changes remain to be seen, we are ready and willing to take on whatever challenges you may be facing. For more detailed assistance with your family law concern, contact us today at 630-402-0333 to schedule a free consultation. We are proud to serve clients in Kane, DuPage, Cook, Kendall, and Will Counties.

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Address1121 East Main Street, Suite 300, Saint Charles, IL 60174