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New Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act - What Should You Expect?

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Introducing the New Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act: What Should You Expect?

The start of a new year will also mark many changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act as well as the Parentage Act. Senate Bill 57 and House Bill 1531, which take effect on January 1, 2016, will introduce changes in property, custody, and even grounds for divorce.To help you understand the differences in the new Act, over the next few months, we will be writing a series of blog posts highlighting different Sections of the new Act.

Before delving into the details though, there are several basics to note about the new Act that are sure to affect the majority of family law cases moving forward:

Grounds and Timing of Divorce

The revised Act provides for only one ground for divorce: irreconcilable differences. This shift means that any party who wishes to dissolve a divorce may initiate a divorce proceeding without placing any blame on the other party. To further speed along the divorce process, if both parties agree to the divorce, there will now be no waiting period before filing. However, if there is a contest, there is still a six-month waiting period. Finally, Courts now must enter a final Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage within sixty days of the closing of proofs unless the Court enters an Order specifying good cause.

"Custody" Is No More!

Perhaps the biggest terminology change in the revised Act, the term "custody" is now changed to "allocation of parental responsibilities." The standard for allocation of parental responsibilities will still be what the Court determines is in the "best interests of the child." However, the Act now directs Courts to consider several new factors in both allocating decision-making responsibilities and allocating "parenting time" (formerly known as "visitation"), including any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to these two issues.

"Specific Findings" for Marital Property (and Debts!) Division

Under the revised Act, "marital property" now explicitly includes division marital debt as well. Also, in an effort to clear up the record on appeal, Judges now must make specific factual findings as to its classification of assets as marital or non-marital property, values, and other factual findings supporting its property award. In determining the value of marital assets, the new Section codifies the "Fair Market Value standard," meaning Courts will look to the Fair Market Value of assets as of a date agreed to by the parties or ordered by the Court.

Court-Appointed Financial Experts

Instead of parties having to hire their own business valuation and forensic experts and having them argue over the value of a business in Court, Judges under the revised Act may now appoint their own financial experts or other professionals to advise the Court to advise the Court on financial issues.

Next week's topic? Relocation!

Interested in speaking to an experienced divorce attorney? Hurst, Robin & Kay, LLC can help you explore the different options for divorce, including traditional litigation, Collaborative Divorce and mediation. Let's talk about it today at 312.782.2400.

An Associate at HRK, Stephanie Tang joined the firm after working for three different Judges who currently preside over family law cases in three Illinois county courts. She graduated from Northwestern University with honors in Legal Studies and went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from University of Illinois College of Law.

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