SB 57: Forging a New Landscape of Divorce in Illinois

b2ap3_thumbnail_SB-57.jpgAfter years of deliberation, major changes may soon be positioning themselves into the legal landscape of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5). These changes were recently passed by the Illinois General Assembly. The new bill, referred to as SB 57, covers the following areas of Illinois divorce and family law:

  • Elimination of grounds in divorce;
  • Allocation of parental responsibilities;
  • Parental relocation issues;
  • Dissolution of marriage time limits;
  • Continual maintenance and marital property distribution; and
  • Changes to controversial “heart balm” actions.

Not only would these amendments bring changes to how Illinois family law attorneys approach the divorce process, but SB 57 would also amend such existing statutes as:

  • Intergovernmental Missing Child Recovery Act of 1984;
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure;
  • The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act;
  • The Probate Act; and
  • The Illinois Domestic Violence Act.

Do These Changes Only Affect Illinois Couples Contemplating Divorce ?

Historically, Illinois has always been a “no-fault” state but divorce granted on specific grounds has always been available. With the passing of the new statute, petitioning for divorce based on grounds would be eliminated.

Another aspect of SB 57 is to redefine the “irretrievable breakdown” of a marriage. If a couple is living apart for a period of six months, the marriage is considered irretrievable and for those wishing to divorce immediately, the six month or traditional two year waiting period have been abolished.

The changes proposed to child custody issues is perhaps the most ground-breaking. No longer is parental consideration favored for one parent over another. SD 57 takes into account solely the best interests of the child and establishes that both parents take an active interest and role in the care and well-being of the child. Combined decision making will still focus on such areas as:

  • Education;
  • Health;
  • Religion; and
  • Extracurricular activities.

As questions regarding custodial parent relocation has always been a hot topic during custody battles, SB 57 brings this aspect into perspective by defining a specific relocation radius to those with primary custody with a simplified formula for those wishing to move across state lines. This amendment will also be reflected in The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

SB 57 will also thwart the time limit on the dissolution of marriage within the court system. If all closing proofs have been entered, the new statute requires the dissolution to be granted within 60 days, although the court may opt to extend this by 30 additional days.

Typically, one of the most difficult processes in divorce is continual maintenance and the division of the marital property. Under SB 57, the court must present a reason why specific allocations have been made while also setting fixed periods of continual maintenance based upon marital length criteria.

Perhaps the lesser known divorce action, “heart balm” or the process of alienation of affection, breach of promise to marry and criminal conversation (often associated with adultery practices) have become antiquated and no longer find a place within the divorce process. Once used as attack methods interjected into the divorce process, SB 57 would eliminate these tactics as the roles of both men and women within the marriage and society have evolved.

At the Law Offices of Martoccio & Martoccio, you can trust that our experienced Hinsdale Family Law attorneys are knowledgeable of any new law on the horizon. Our legal team is dedicated to provide exceptional legal counsel to all members of the Chicagoland community who are contemplating divorce. Call our offices today to learn more about how SB 57 may have an impact on you and your family.

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