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Family law issues affected by changes in Illinois


For Illinois couples who are in the middle of a divorce and are aware of prominent stories of a high asset divorce in the news, there might not be a kinship or even concern as to what those couples are enduring. However, these larger scale divorces actually shine light on divorces of more modest means and how the divorce laws in Illinois affect them. Changes to the divorce laws were meant to lower the risk of an ongoing dispute and help those who have lower-level incomes.

In the past, spouses who should have received support were often left with little in the way of income after having raised children. Changes came about nearly four decades ago in an effort to help wives who did not have sufficient education or left the workforce for their husbands. This year, other changes were implemented to alter the manner of description for these divorcing couples. No longer are they referred to as "husband and wife." Instead, they are called "spouses."

Previously, the grounds for divorce, such as adultery, were part of the lexicon and had to be used. Now, the state has a no-fault system that makes it easier to complete a divorce as there is no requirement for either party to show the other is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. If one of the spouses does not want to divorce, the wait time is now six months. Custody and visitation are no longer used as terms. Instead, it is called "parenting time" and "parental responsibilities." All decisions regarding the children will have to be made as a couple. With spousal maintenance, the length of the marriage and the amount that the paying spouse earns are taken into account as to how it is determined. For child support, another change is set to take place in 2017 with shared income replacing the percentage-based system that is in place now.

People who are divorcing will undoubtedly understand the litany of family law issues that can and will arise regardless of their income and means. Knowing how the law works and pending changes is a key factor in any proceeding. For assistance, it is wise for those ending their marriage to have assistance from an attorney experienced in family law.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Divorces of rich raise eyebrows, but new laws affect those of more modest means," Robert McCoppin, Nov. 28, 2016

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