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Major Changes to Illinois Family Law Provisions for 2017 and 2016

2017 Changes to Child Support Laws

In July 2017, an update to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act went into effect redefining how child support payments are calculated in Illinois. While the previous law based the amount of child support payments from a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent solely on the non-custodial parent's income, the revised law now takes both parents' incomes into account. A basic support obligation amount will be calculated based on the parents' combined net income and the number of children, and this amount will be divided between the parents based on their individual percentage share of the combined income. In addition, each parent's amount of parental responsibility and parenting time with their children will be considered.

2016 Changes to Child Custody and Visitation Laws

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) is the basis of most marriage and divorce concerns throughout the state. While small revisions to IMDMA have been made from time to time, much of the law has remained constant for the past 60 years. However, in 2015, a measure was passed by the Illinois State Legislature that made substantial updates to the IMDMA in several key areas of focus. This bill took effect on January 1, 2016, affecting the following areas:

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

The modified IMDMA changed the way which courts approach parenting issues following a divorce or separation. Previously, parents were typically granted either sole custody or joint custody. In a sole custody order, full authority for all important decisions related to raising a child would be granted to one parent, and in a joint custody order, these responsibilities would be shared equally by both parents. A parent would be considered either a custodial or non-custodial parent, implying that one parent was more important, which could lead to contentious, lengthy child custody battles.

The updated IMDMA replaced this entire child custody concept with a more cooperative systems known as "allocation of parental responsibilities." Rather than granting sole or joint custody or referring to parents as custodial or non-custodial, parents are now typically required to share in the responsibility of raising their children, and each parent has rights that are protected and respected. However, it is still usually necessary to name one parent as the primary residential parent for purposes such as determining the district where a child will attend school.

During divorce proceedings, parents are required to submit a proposed parenting plan which will outline how the different decision-making responsibilities will be divided between the parents. This plan must also include a parenting time schedule, showing when a child will spend time with each parent, as well as the methods parents will use to resolve any disagreements which may arise in the future. If parents are unable to reach an agreement on a parenting plan, a judge will make the decisions regarding how to allocate parental responsibilities between them, according to what they believe is in a child's best interests.

Parenting Time

Under the updated IMDMA, the majority of parenting time with the parties' children will typically be granted to one parent, ensuring that children will have a stable basis for attendance of school. Previously, the law stated that the other parent had a right to a reasonable amount of visitation time with their children. However, the IMDMA now recognizes that a parent is not just a temporary visitor in their children's lives, and the wording of the law has been updated to state that parents have a right to reasonable parenting time with their children. This parenting time is not based on the allocation of decision-making responsibilities between the parents. If the judge believes that a child is in physical or emotional danger during one parent's parenting time, he or she may decide to restrict that parent's parenting time in order to protect the child's safety.

If you have any questions about how these changes to the IMDMA affect you and your children, the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C. can answer your questions and work with you to ensure that the law is followed correctly during and after your divorce. Contact us today at 815-666-1285 schedule your consultation. We serve clients throughout Will County, Grundy County, and Kendall County,from our offices located in Plainfield and Joliet, Illinois.

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