Important changes to Illinois divorce laws

| Feb 8, 2017 | Spousal Support |

A significant shift has been witnessed in the divorce laws of Illinois. These changes are of prime importance for men going through a divorce. While in the past the father had to pay more and lose custody of the child as well, the law has now been amended to allow for a more collaborative parenting approach. The changes made to the law will help reduce conflict and establish better equity for former spouses. 

The new laws seek to address what many saw as the failings of the legal system in giving justice to both sides of the divorce party and protecting the rights of both the husband and the wife. The very definition of a family unit has undergone a paradigm shift, and the new laws seek to address those changes with a fairer and more equitable divorce procedure.  

Cultural Shifts

The changes to the law underline important cultural shifts taking place in Illinois’s attitude towards divorce. The term ‘husband and wife’ have been replaced with the more gender-neutral ‘spouses’, in a nod towards same-sex marriage. The separation period has also been reduced from two years to six months.   

Earlier grounds for divorce such as bigamy, adultery or cruelty have been almost completely removed, which means Illinois now has a no-fault divorce system resulting in a more streamlined procedure where neither party need prove fault. 

A New Formula

A set formula has been put forth for calculating alimony, or ‘maintenance’, as it is now referred to. Earlier, there was no set rule for the payment levels, and some downstate judges even took to not awarding maintenance at all. 

The judge will also take other factors into consideration while determining maintenance rates, such as the financial state of both the spouses, the duration of the marriage and the specifics of the grounds for divorce.

A Fairer Maintenance System

The duration of maintenance will be up to the judge to decide. A couple with a combined gross income of less than two-fifty-thousand will have the spouse with the higher income paying thirty percent of that income minus twenty percent of the recipient’s. A minimum payment of monthly forty dollars for one child has also been set, while the maximum has been set at forty percent of the combined income. 

Thus, the process of paying for maintenance has become much more specific and predictable, although the judge can still deviate from the rules in special cases. An even newer formula is said to be in the works, to be implemented from next year for addressing other flaws in the current laws as identified by the judiciary. 

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