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Proposed Overhaul of Illinois Family Law

Change is on the horizon for Illinois family law. In the latter half of 2012, the bipartisan Illinois Family Law Study Committee proposed major reforms to the statutes concerning divorce and child custody. There are hundreds of proposed amendments that could be passed early this year, and here’s a bit of what you need to know.

The proposed amendment with perhaps the widest reach is one that states petitioners may no longer need to plead grounds to obtain a divorce. This new measure will spare couples from enduring six months of separation to conclusively establish the legal requirement of irreconcilable differences.

Another major reform may require courts to issue a final judgment within 90 days of the close of proofs. Currently, it is common to wait over a year for a judgment. Shortening this period will make divorces less stressful and less costly.

Further, the judge will need to provide written and reviewable findings regarding spousal maintenance. Judges right now can make a determination that states it is “based on all the facts and circumstances.” This vague wording has previously made it difficult for parties to contest judgments in appellate court proceedings.

An additional proposal targets the factors used to calculate child-support. Illinois has been using a gross-income system, which is based almost exclusively on the non-custodial parent’s income and assets. Under the current proposal, courts will take into account the amount of time a non-custodial parent spends with the child, as well as the other parent’s income and assets.

Another change would be to child custody. Illinois presently allows for two forms of child custody: sole custody and joint custody. The committee proposed a new model, called joint and sole custody, where parents could have joint custody, with each parent in charge of certain distinct areas of decision-making.

Additionally, the state may consider introducing a statutory presumption that it is in a child’s best interest to spend at least 35 percent of his or her time with each parent. Although this division is the norm right now, a statutory amendment would mean less difficulty in court.

Lastly, the committee wants to eliminate archaic heart-balm remedies, such as:

  • Alienation of affection
  • Breach of promise to marry
  • Criminal conversion (adultery)

If you are facing a divorce or child custody dispute, you need an experienced attorney who knows the law and can fight for your rights.

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Paul Chatzky
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About Born in Havana, Cuba, Paul Chatzky is fluent in Spanish and English, enabling him to effectively represent a wider range of individuals and businesses. He is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, and is listed among Illinois Super Lawyers, which is a reflection of his high ethical standards and exceptional legal knowledge. As…

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Deborah E. Chatzky
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About Prior to joining the firm as a paralegal, Debbie was employed by major banking institutions as a loan processor and as an executive secretary. Debbie was also employed as an administrative assistant for the Board of Jewish Education. Having majored in Sociology, Debbie graduated from the University of Florida in 1980. Debbie completed her…

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