Life doesn’t stand still and neither does the law. January 2015 brought a significant change to the way that Maintenance (formerly known as Alimony) is calculated. January 2016 will bring big changes to grounds for divorce and re-location of the primary residential parent (formerly called custodial parent). Read on to learn how these changes are expected to play out.

Maintenance

The Illinois Maintenance law (located at 750 ILCS 5/504) changed in January, 2o15. Under the old law Maintenance was discretionary to the court. As a result, the Court’s often refused to award maintenance and, when they did, there was a lack of uniformity between different counties and courtrooms.

All of that has changed.  With few exceptions, Maintenance is now awarded according to two strict formulas that 1) accounts for the earning capacity of each party and, that 2) ties the duration of a maintenance award to the length of the marriage. Here is the formula as written in the law:

              (A) The amount of maintenance under this
        
paragraph (1) shall be calculated by taking 30% of the payor's gross income minus 20% of the payee's gross income. The amount calculated as maintenance, however, when added to the gross income of the payee, may not result in the payee receiving an amount that is in excess of 40% of the combined gross income of the parties.
            (B) The duration of an award under this
        
paragraph (1) shall be calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage by whichever of the following factors applies: 0-5 years (.20); 5-10 years (.40); 10-15 years (.60); or 15-20 years (.80). For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court, in its discretion, shall order either permanent maintenance or maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage.

When you have a consultation with the Kibler Law Office, we can calculate probable maintenance awards quickly using our in house maintenance worksheet. Request a consultation today!

Grounds

Dissolution of marriage or, divorce, has required grounds until now. Grounds include: Physical or Mental Cruelty, Adultery, Abandonment, and the “Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage”. Basically your options were to prove something like Mental Cruelty, get the responding party to stipulate (agree) that you had been living separate and apart for a period in excess of two years, or wait the two year period out.

Now, beginning January 2016 the only Ground available will be “Irretrievable Breakdown”. 750 ILCS 5/401 eff. Jan 1, 2016. Parties will have to wait 6 months from the time when they begin to live “separate and apart” in order to be granted a divorce decree. This change brings the law on the books in line with current reality.

Relocation

Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, relocation rules for parents with primary custodial or residential responsibilities for children will change dramatically.  The old law permitted a primary custodian to move anywhere within the State of Illinois without a court order while restricting a parent from moving across State lines. Results were bizarre and inconsistent in their effect on families.

Now, a primary residential parent outside of Chicago-land will be able to move up to 50 miles away without court approval. Moving further will require a an order of the court or agreement of the parties. And, primary residential parents will for the first time ever be able move across State lines without a court order. But, if a parent moves across State lines then they will only be allowed to move up to 25 miles away from their current residence without a court order.

There is a stark difference between the old law and new law. If you’re sharing custody and contemplating a move, you should consider getting legal advice prior to the change in the law.

Is that it?

No, there are many more changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act than are covered here.  And, even though the new laws that we have discussed seem to be lock tight based on formulas, there is still plenty of room for legal advocacy. Request a consultation today to discuss how the changes can affect you!

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