Illinois recently passed major changes to its divorce laws that are set to take effect on January 1, 2016. Although these changes are generally designed to make getting a divorce easier in Illinois, litigants who are unaware of them or who retain counsel that is not familiar with the changes to the law could find themselves at a significant disadvantage should they file for divorce after the changes take effect on January 1, 2016.
Here are some of the most significant changes to divorce laws in Illinois, effective January 1, 2016:
No Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce
Under present law, divorcing spouses in Illinois can request a divorce on the “no-fault” grounds of irreconcilable differences or on one of several fault-based grounds. The main tactical advantage of choosing a fault-based ground for divorce was that whereas spouses seeking a divorce based on irreconcilable differences had to comply with the applicable waiting period before they could file for divorce, those seeking a divorce based on fault grounds did not. The new law eliminates all fault-based grounds for divorce and keeps “irreconcilable differences” as the only ground for divorce.
Elimination of the Separation Period
When parties in Illinois sought divorces on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, the party filing for divorce had to establish that he or she and the other spouse had lived “separate and apart” for a period of two years. Even if both parties wanted to divorce and did not contest that they had lived separate and apart, the parties still had to establish that they had lived “separate and apart” for at least six months. The new law eliminates this separation period entirely. Now, divorcing couples need not worry about establishing any separation period before being able to proceed with their divorces.
Expedited Divorce Procedures
The new divorce laws also impose time limitations on courts to render final determinations in divorce cases. Whereas previously a court could take months or even years – as much time as the court felt was appropriate – to finalize a divorce, courts will now have 60 days after the closing of proofs or after a trial. This change is designed to assist divorcing spouses to finalize their divorce as expeditiously as possible so they can move on with their lives.
Summary Hearings for Temporary Child Support and Alimony Orders
Instead of requiring evidentiary hearings at which both parties have an opportunity to present witnesses and evidence, the new law allows the court to decide requests for temporary alimony and/or child support on a summary basis. This eliminates the need for the parties to have expensive and sometimes prolonged evidentiary hearings on these issues and speeds up the process whereby courts can award a spouse in need with temporary maintenance and/or child support payments.
Work with an Experienced Chicago Divorce Attorney
The Arami Law Office is ready to assist you with your divorce matter regardless of whether your case falls under existing Illinois laws or if you will need assistance with your divorce after these new laws take effect. In either case, contact the Chicago divorce attorneys for aggressive and knowledgeable representation by calling (312) 212-1399 or contact Arami Law Office online.