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Major Changes to Illinois Family Law

Posted on in Child Custody

Illinois family law, Palatine Family Law AttorneyWith the recent passage of the “modern family” bill, Illinois family law will soon undergo drastic changes. The Bill amends the law in areas including child custody, the grounds for divorce and parental relocation. Senate Bill 57, signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, goes into effect January 1, 2016.

Child Custody

One major alteration to Illinois law is the abolishment of the concept of child custody. Instead, Judges will allocate parenting time and parental responsibilities between the parents. Each parent will be assigned specific childcare tasks that deal with different areas of upbringing. These tasks may include decision-making responsibility in areas, such as education, religion, nutrition, health care, the child’s daily schedule, discipline, relationships with others and childcare.

Parental responsibility will be allocated, according to a child’s best interests, dependent on the circumstances of each child’s situation. To determine a child’s best interests, Courts will examine factors including each parent’s abilities and weaknesses, the child’s relationship with each parent and the wishes of the parents and children.

Grounds for Divorce

The new law also eliminates fault divorce in Illinois. Currently, a person can get a divorce based on cruelty, adultery, drunkenness, impotence, etc. Couples may also divorce based on irreconcilable differences, yet spouses are required to live separate and apart for a period of two years. However, if they agree, they may reduce the waiting period to six months.

Under the new law, fault grounds are no longer available. Instead, the Court must find that irreconcilable differences caused the marriage to break down irretrievably. The Court must also find that reconciliation attempts have failed, and future attempts to reconcile are impracticable and not in the best interests of the family. Upon finding irreconcilable differences, the Court must immediately grant the divorce without a waiting period.

If the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least six months, this creates an irrebuttable presumption that irreconcilable differences exist. If the spouses do not agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, they can live apart for six months and then get the divorce.

Parental Relocation

Other family law changes state that custodial parents must obtain Court approval to move. Currently, a relocating custodial parent must receive the Court’s approval if he or she is moving out of Illinois. Parents do not need approval to move anywhere within the state, even if the move is several hours away.

Now, a parent with the primary residence may move up to 25 miles without Court approval, even across state lines. In order to move farther than that, the parent needs approval — even if the move is within Illinois. This limit applies to parents living in Cook County and the five surrounding counties — DuPage, Kane, Lake, Henry and Will Counties. Outside of those six counties, the limit is 50 miles.


In addition to these changes, the family law overhaul bill eliminates heart balm suits — civil lawsuits for adultery, alienation of affection or breach of promise to marry. The law also alters the definitions of marital and non-marital property and requires that the Court provide reasons for classifying property as one or the other. Finally, the Bill requires a spouse receiving alimony to notify the payor spouse of any plans for remarriage.

If you have any questions regarding how the new laws may affect your divorce, child custody arrangement or any other family law proceeding, please contact Palatine family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson to schedule your free initial consultation. Call 847.873.6741 today.


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