Recent Changes to Illinois Divorce Law

Recent Changes to Illinois Divorce Law

Like people, laws can change. Often, in fact. More than 250 new laws took effect in Illinois in January of 2020. Some of those laws might spell out good news for people unhappy with the current state of divorce or family law. But it’s a lot to keep up with, especially if you’re already busy sorting out the details of your divorce.

Below are some recent changes that could impact you or the outcome of your divorce.

More Rights for People in Civil Unions

Good news for anyone in a civil union: As of 2020, people in a civil union have the same rights as married people due to the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. In addition to being entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits as a married couple, those rights continue after the death of one of the partners.  

Previously, partners in a civil union lacked the rights to visit their significant others in hospitals make emergency health care decisions for them, or make funeral arrangements for their partners.

There are also implications for stepparents in a civil union. Before the passing of this law, stepparents in a civil union could lose all contact with a child they had developed a close bond with after the death of their partner. A new spouse could prevent the former stepparent from having any contact with the child. The extent of your rights in a specific case may still be decided by a court.

Pet Custody in Illinois

Did you know Illinois is one of the more progressive states when it comes to the well-being of your pets? This could add another complication to your divorce proceedings, as the living arrangements of pets are now among the many items that can be negotiated.

According to a law effective in 2018, the court can consider the well-being of family pets in a divorce. Previously, a cat or dog would automatically go with the perceived owner. Today, Illinois is among a minority of states in which ownership, parenting time, custody, and the division of expenses related to pets are up for debate. The courts can prioritize how pets will be divided and take into consideration which person is a more appropriate owner moving forward.

Child Removal Law

Newer definitions of child removal law are much more restrictive. This gives more rights – and potentially more control – to parents who have less parenting time. Until relatively recently, a parent with most of the parenting time could move a child away from their current residence to one anywhere in Illinois without approval from either a court or the other parent. Now, a parent’s ability to relocate with their child (without approval) is much more limited:

  • If you’re in DuPage, Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, or Will Counties, you may move with your child to a new residence in Illinois up to 25 miles away;
  • If you live outside of those counties, the new Illinois residence can be up to 50 miles away from your former home; and
  • If you live near the Illinois border, you may move with the child to a different state, as long as it is within 25 miles of your previous home.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance rules have undergone many iterations over the years. If you want to calculate how much money you may owe your ex, or how much you can expect to receive, some recent changes will affect the formula. The law was modified to rebalance the maintenance amounts based on new tax liabilities. Before 2019, the maintenance payment was considered gross income and therefore was taxable to the person receiving it; now net income is used.

In addition, the formula for determining maintenance has changed. Effective 2020, the guideline for maintenance payments is determined by taking 33.33% of the payor’s net income and subtracting 25% of the net income of the recipient. (The amount can’t exceed 40% of the combined income of the parties).

Child Support Formula

The way child support is calculated in Illinois has also changed. In 2017, a new child support law required that the calculation be based on the combined net income of both parents. This adjustment could remove an unfair disadvantage in some situations. The old law calculated child support using flat percentages based on the number of children in the family.

To find out how any federal or state laws could impact you in a divorce, call the award-winning Law Office of David A. King, P.C. at (630) 504-7210. Our DuPage County family law and child custody attorneys can work with you to make sure you’re accessing your rights as a parent.


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