Overview of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act
Not all marriages are meant to last forever. Whether yours is toxic, or you have fallen out of love with your spouse and vice versa, maybe it’s better that you go your separate ways. Before making that monumental decision, hire experienced Schaumburg divorce attorneys familiar with the updated Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.
What is the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA)?
In Illinois, divorce is legally called ‘dissolution of marriage’, and the rules are stated in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The Act was overhauled in 2015, more than 30 years after its law passed. The new Act is a lot less aggressive and adversarial than the last one.
Many sections of the Act were changed to reduce the conflicts that can occur during divorce proceedings. The amendments level the playing field for both parties for fair results and consequences by rejecting the ‘winners and losers’ mentality.
Changes to the IMDMA You Should Be Aware Of
Some of the changes that the Act underwent, and which all divorce cases are judged on, include the following:
Calculations for Illinois Child Support
In 2016, the IMDMA was amended to revise the calculation method for child support. As per the amendments, the court determines the amount parents will have to spend to take care of their children. The determined amount is one that they would have spent if they were still married. It is based on both parents’ combined income and the number of children.
This is called the Basic Support Obligation that both parents are responsible for. Each has to contribute a set percentage of their income towards the combined income. In this case, the non-custodial parent will have to pay some part of the obligation to the custodial parent. If their children stay overnight with them at least 40% of the time, the obligation will undergo further calculations.
Heart Balm Actions
Divorcing parents in Illinois cannot sue each other over ‘heart balm’ actions such as adultery, breach of promise to marry, and retaining affection. This amendment was introduced when the rights for men and women changed to promote amicable divorce settlements.
Grounds for Divorce
Illinois is a no-fault state which means you don’t have to prove fault to get a divorce. So even if your spouse committed adultery, abandoned you, abused you (physically or psychologically) etc., irreconcilable differences are the only grounds under which you can get a divorce.
Under the old Act, couples who wanted to get divorced had to live separately from one another for at least two years unless they agreed to reduce that duration to 6 months. As per the new entry to the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, they now only have to live apart for 6 months before they make an entry. As mentioned before, they must prove that there are irreconcilable differences before a divorce is granted.
The court has 60 days to dissolve a marriage after the close of evidence – i.e. when the evidence has been presented. An additional 30 days can be granted if there is reasonable cause. During this time, attorney fees and other costs related to the divorce proceedings must be filed no later than 14 days after the closure of evidence.
Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution
As per the amended IMDMA rules, a joint petition for a simple dissolution has specific requirements which need to be followed. These include the following:
- The parties should not be interested in retirement benefits if they are not held in an IRA and the combined account value is less than $10,000
- The full and fair market value of total marital property post encumbrance deduction is less than $50,000
- The total yearly income from all sources is less than $60,000
- Neither of the parties enjoys a gross yearly income of more than $30,000
Caps on Modifications for Marital Settlements
All marital settlement agreements must be in writing unless there is a valid and court-approved reason for an oral one. The agreement terms used for a judgment veto any conflict between the terms and prove-up testaments.
Only child support, parental responsibilities, maintenance, and educational costs are adjustable in the agreement. However, they can only be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances.
Updated Standard Forms
The revised Act also sheds light on standardized forms for attorney fees, parenting plans and financial affidavits. The Illinois Supreme Court Committee drafts these. As per the Act, the form language for attorney fees should be stated clearly. It should be advanced from the marital estate to ensure transparency between both parties. Additionally, the court has the right to impose sanctions and penalties for inaccuracies or misleading information in the standard forms.
Summary Hearings for Temporary Child Support and Maintenance
All temporary maintenance and child support hearings can be heard on a summary basis. Evidentiary hearings are allowed as long as there is a good cause.
Getting a Divorce in Illinois
If you decide to get a divorce, besides hiring Schaumburg divorce attorneys, there are a few things you have to take care of:
File a Petition
The first thing you need to do is file a divorce petition in your county. There is no waiting period for this in Illinois. However, you may get a judgement if you live in the state for 60 to 90 days. If you cannot afford it, ask your Schaumburg divorce attorneys if the filing fee can be waived.
Establish Grounds for Divorce
As mentioned before, Illinois recognizes ‘no-fault’ divorces. This means that the only grounds recognized for a divorce in the state are ‘irreconcilable differences.’ The law defines these differences as ones that break down a marriage irreparably.
Both parties must live separately for at least six months or in the same house during the marriage breakdown. They also must prove that all reconciliation efforts failed, and future attempts are futile or not in the family’s best interest.
Not all divorces can or should go to trial. Many disputes can be handled through negotiation and advice from Schaumburg divorce attorneys and mediators. A trial can be quite expensive. It’s one of the main reasons why many divorce cases are settled via an agreement. Some of the common issues that are resolved via agreement include the following:
- Allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time
- Property division (investments, real estate etc.)
- Child support, maintenance, and duration
- Debt division
- Financial obligations for both parties
- Parenting time arrangements
If the parties cannot decide on the agreement, their case goes to trial.
Determine Marital Property
Marital property involves property you and your spouse accrued during your marriage. This can include bank accounts, stock, antiques, real estate, retirement plans, pension plans, and other assets. Irrespective of who owns them or whose name is on the title, marital property is divided equitably. So this can also include debt, mortgages, medical bills etc. An inheritance or gifts are excluded.
To determine equitable (NOT equal) division, the court will evaluate the contributions and financials of both parties. This includes their financial circumstances and whether they can get more assets post-divorce. Before a decision is made, the court will also determine whether the marital income was used for anything that is not marriage-related, child support allocations, and other factors.
Allocate Parental Time and Responsibilities
In Illinois, custody and visitation are called parenting rights and responsibilities. As per the law, divorcing couples need to establish both along with a parenting schedule. A judge may order a mediation and classes based on the effects of divorce on children.
The court will consider the agreements while making decisions on parental responsibilities. However, the judge will also look into each party’s ability to decide their children’s health, education, religion and extracurricular activities. The children’s best interests will be prioritized in any case.
The judge may appoint an attorney to represent the children in a contested divorce. The fee has to be paid by the parents. The judge may ask both parties to cooperate and deal with factors that affect their children’s wellbeing for the parenting schedule.
Contact the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov, P.C
Whether you have a contentious divorce case, need help with a parenting agreement, or advice for your case, you need an experienced attorney in your corner. This is where the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov, P.C., can prove invaluable. We have experienced and dedicated divorce attorneys on our team who can help you manage your case along with the stress and anxiety that come with it.
We understand how emotionally draining a divorce can be for you and your family. Our process is simple, compassionate and straightforward, so you can focus on creating a stable future. Get in touch with us for a highly confidential meeting by dialing (847) 241-1299.
We are known for making divorce proceedings and meetings as stress-free as possible. Our team focuses on finding solutions to ensure a stable outlook for everyone involved. We will work with you to safeguard your rights and ensure you get positive, long-term results.
Our divorce attorneys have experience handling a range of divorces, so nothing can surprise them. Please do not hesitate to call us even if you think you can handle the case yourself. We can give you advice and an experienced attorney who can ensure favorable outcomes.