Five Important Changes in Illinois Divorce Law for Parents
New changes in Illinois divorce law took effect within the IMDMA (the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act) on January 1, 2016. The new Illinois Divorce Law requirements attempt to promote cooperation between separating parents with the help of the courts. As always, the court system’s judgements are made with one clear objective in mind: to do what’s best in the interest of the child. For parents considering divorce, here are five main points in particular, to know about the new Illinois divorce law changes.
- Language has changed. The terms“custody” and “visitation” are no longer used. Instead, spouses will work on determining “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time”.
The change was made presumably because the new terms are less divisive and promote participation on the part of both parents.
- Parents must submit a parenting plan in 120 days. When “sole” or “joint” custody were established, there was not a strict deadline on the submittal of the parenting agreement. Now, the parenting plan must be submitted within 120 days of filing for divorce. Parenting plans are individualized and detailed based on each situation, but as stated in the IMDMA, the minimal parenting plan must address, among other things:
- Allocation for significant decision-making responsibilities and designation of the parent with the majority of the parenting time
- Provisions for the child/children’s living arrangements and each parent’s parenting time
- A mediation provision for reallocation of parenting time (if applicable)
- Each parent’s right to health, dental and educational records
- Child/children’s residential address for school enrollment
- Transportation arrangements between parents
- Provisions for communication with the child during the other parent’s parenting time
- Provision for the right of first refusal (meaning the primary parent asks the other parent first when they need child care).
In best case scenarios, parents will agree and file the plan together. If the plan is filed independently and there is disagreement, the plan will go to mediation, and then to a hearing where the court will make a decision in the best interest of the child/children.
- Areas of responsibility can be allocated separately. When “sole” or “joint” custody was granted, one parent usually had responsibility for making the major decisions in the child/children’s lives. Now, different areas of responsibility can be shared between the two parents in the best interest of the child. For example, different parents can make decisions about the child’s education, health care, religion, extracurricular activities, etc. The areas of parental responsibility are allowed to be implemented as agreed upon by the parents, as long as the court determines the decisions are ultimately in the best interest of the child/children.
- There are now restrictions on moving. In the past, parents could relocate at will as long as they stayed within the state. Now, if the person with the majority of parenting time wishes to move 25 miles or further from their primary residence, they must provide written notice to the other parent. If the non-relocating parent signs the form, the relocating parent is allowed to move. Otherwise, the relocating parent must file a petition with the court and their case will be reviewed. The judge will consider many factors before allowing the move, including:
- the circumstances and reasons for the intended relocation
- the reasons the non-relocating parent is objecting to the move
- the history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child/children
- the educational opportunities for the child at the new location
- the absence or presence of extended family at the new location
- anticipated impact on the child
- impact on the parenting plan
- the wishes of the child
An interesting exception to note on the relocation rule in the new Illinois Divorce Law is that if a parent moves with the child 25 miles or less from the child’s current primary residence to a new primary residence outside Illinois, Illinois continues to be considered the home state of the child under the law.
|5. Children with disabilities may now receive support after the age of 18. The new year brought a change in Illinois law for special needs children who are physically or mentally disabled, meaning they have an impairment which substantially limits life activities (such as work). They can now receive support from the state upon the death of one or both parents. The court may award money out of property and income of both parents to establish a trust for the benefit of the non-minor child.
The decisions that need to be made during divorce are never easy but the right legal guidance can help you make the best ones possible.