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New Divorce Laws for 2016

Posted on in Divorce

divorce, new laws, Illinois family law attorneyAfter months of waiting, changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act have finally gone into effect. Passed by the state legislature in the spring of 2015 and signed by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner in July, the amendments are among some of the most significant changes to civil and family law in nearly four decades. The full procedural impact of the updates remains to be seen, as attorneys and courts around the state have just gone back to work for the new year, but many of new provisions are fairly straightforward, especially those pertaining to new filings for divorce.

Irreconcilable Differences Only

One of the biggest changes to come down in the new law affect the available grounds for divorce in the state. For generations, a divorce could be granted on the basis of negative or destructive behavior of one spouse. These behaviors included those that one would normally associate with divorce, including adultery, bigamy, repeated mental or physical cruelty, abandonment, and habitual substance abuse. In the mid-1980s, however, the law was updated to include the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences, acknowledging that something terrible was not necessary to prove a marriage was not working.

Beginning this year, the state of Illinois has officially moved away from at-fault divorce altogether. No longer will a spouse be forced to prove that his or her partner has engaged in destructive or dangerous behavior. Instead, he or she can simply file on the basis that the behavior has led to the breakdown of the marriage. For example, if your partner is cheating, it can certainly create irreconcilable difference in your marriage. Whether you can actually prove the cheating is irrelevant if your marriage is not salvageable, and, going forward, you will not need to.

Expediting the Process

Until now, the biggest drawback to a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences was the statutorily-required period of separation. The law stated that a couple must live separate and apart for a period of at least two years—although case law has dictated that “separate and apart” could still be in the same physical residence. In uncontested situations, the separation period could be reduced to six months by mutual agreement, but that still meant that a divorce could be stalled for half a year with no justifiable reason.

As part of the law change, the mandatory separation period has also been eliminated. A couple agreeing to proceed with a divorce can do so immediately. If the couple does not agree, the court will accept a six-month separation as irrebuttable proof of irreconcilable differences. Thus, less time is spent watching a calendar and couples can focus on what is truly important.

Call 847-253-3100 Today

If you are considering a divorce, it is important to understand exactly what the process entails. Contact an experienced Arlington Heights family law attorney to schedule your free consultation. We will meet with you to discuss your situation and help you build a better future for yourself and your family.



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