2016 signals changes to Illinois’ divorce laws

2016 signals changes to Illinois’ divorce laws

8948599_S.jpgWith the start of any new year, change is a common theme. People often make resolutions to make positive changes in their lives. Exercising more, eating healthier and taking time to pause and enjoy life are all common New Year’s resolutions. In cases where an individual is in an unhappy marriage, filing for divorce may also top one’s list of resolutions.

For individuals who plan to file for divorce this year, the start of 2016 also signaled changes to Illinois’ Dissolution of Marriage Act or divorce laws. Some of the most notable changes to the state’s divorce laws deal with child custody and parental relocation.

For divorcing parents, the term child custody has negative connotations and in many cases one parent is viewed as being the custody winner while the other’s parental rights are diminished. Under the new law, the courts now refer to child custody as “allocation of parenting time and responsibility” and will work to make decisions related to defined categories of child-rearing responsibilities including education, medical, extra-curricular and religious. Family law judges will still make decisions related to parenting time and responsibilities based upon what is believed to be in a child’s best interests. Factors that may influence a judge’s decisions in these matters include each parent’s involvement in a child’s life as well as a parent’s efforts to foster a healthy relationship between a child and the other parent.

In addition to changes in how decisions related to child custody are viewed and ultimately decided, changes related to parental relocation also go into effect under the new law. While parents who shared child custody and/or visitation could previously move anywhere within the state without court approval; now, provided both parents agree, a parent can move a distance of 50 miles within the state or 25 miles across state lines.

As the roles and responsibilities of men and women within society continue to change and evolve, so too must the laws that govern divorce and child custody matters. Divorcing divorced or separated parents in Illinois who have questions or concerns about the recent changes to the state’s divorce laws should consult with an attorney.

Source: Belleville News-Democrat, “Illinois divorce law: A change-up for the breakup,” Beth Hundsdorfer, Dec. 30, 2015

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