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2016 Changes in Family Law Make Illinois A No-Fault Divorce State

Posted in Family Law on Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

The new year brought sweeping changes that will undoubtedly affect the lives of many Illinois residents. In all, over 237 laws were changed and rewritten in 2015 with changes taking effect on January 1, 2016. Some of the biggest changes occurred in rewrites of the state family law statutes. These changes made headlines throughout the state.

Some of the more extensive rewrites were made to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, which governs divorce. As of the beginning of this year, the bad behavior of one party is no longer considered when determining grounds for divorce and changes to the time limits on divorces mean couples can now get the process started sooner than before.

“No Fault” Versus Grounds For Divorce

According to a November 2015 News Gazette article on the changes to Illinois divorce laws, the rewrites that took effect on January 1, 2016 are a major overhaul of a system that has not changed in close to 40 years. Under the former statutes, residents of Illinois seeking a divorce needed to base their requests on one of the following actions:

  • Impotency;
  • Bigamy;
  • Adultery;
  • Physical or mental abuse;
  • Habitual drunkenness;
  • Desertion;
  • Committal of a felony offense;
  • Drug use;
  • Relaying a sexually transmitted disease; or
  • Irreconcilable differences.

The new law replaces the old system of a grounds-based divorce, making Illinois one of 17 states to be a true “no fault” divorce state. Under this new version of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/401), the court will now enter a judgment for divorce simply on the finding of irreconcilable differences between the two parties.

Irreconcilable differences are problems or differences between the parties that contribute to the breakdown of the marriage to a point beyond which it can be repaired. In allowing for a no-fault divorce, the court presumes that all past efforts at reconciliation have failed and that any future efforts to restore the marriage are impractical.

One important point to remember in a no-fault divorce: while fault grounds are no longer applicable when it comes to actually having your divorce granted, a partner’s bad behavior may continue to come into play when it comes to determining alimony and support.

Changes in Time Limits for Filing For A Divorce

The other big change to divorce proceedings that occurred as a result of Senate Bill 0057 is that couples are no longer required to wait as long to file their paperwork to get a divorce. Under the former law, unless an individual had specific fault grounds for requesting a divorce, Illinois couples were required to maintain a continuous separation for a period of two years before they could file for a divorce citing irreconcilable differences. In the law’s current form, the requirement for being separated from one another prior to filing is now six months. This change means that a previously long, potentially complicated process can now proceed at a quicker pace, allowing both parties to move on with their lives.

Call Our Experienced New Lenox Family Law Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one is going through the process of divorce or separation, contact Sabuco, Beck, Hansen, Massino & Pollack, P.C. today. Our team of experienced family law and divorce attorneys can provide the legal counsel and aggressive representation you need to ensure that your rights are protected. We provide effective, efficient legal service throughout Will County and the surrounding areas. Call or contact us online today for an initial review of your case.

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