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Kevin O'Flaherty

In 2016, there have been several significant changes to Illinois divorce law, which align the law with the realities of modern co-parenting arrangements and soften the blow of divorces. More changes are on the way in 2017 as well. You can read our article about changes to Illinois child support laws for 2017 here. 

Changes to Illinois Grounds for Divorce

Before 2016, there were (11) grounds for dissolution of marriage in Illinois:

  • natural impotence at the time of the marriage and continuing after that;
  • bigamy;
  • adultery;
  • willful desertion or absence from the petitioner for one year;
  • habitual drunkenness for a time of 2 years or more;
  • gross and confirmed habits caused by the excessive use of addictive drugs for two years or more;
  • threatening the life of the other by poison or other means showing malice;
  • extreme and repeated physical or mental cruelty;
  • conviction of a felony or other infamous crime;
  • infecting the other spouse with a communicable venereal disease; and/or
  • irreconcilable differences

As of 2016, the only grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences. Before 2016, the required period to live separately and apart would vary based on the grounds for divorce. The parties need to prove that there are irreconcilable differences. If the parties have lived separately for six months, then there is an irrefutable presumption that irreconcilable differences exist. If a party can prove irreconcilable differences, it doesn't matter how long they have lived separate and apart. Also, the six months is from the time of the entry of the judgment, not from the date of filing.

Changes to Illinois Law Regarding Custody and Visitation Rights

Prior to 2016, the parties were defined as a "custodial parent" or "non-custodial parent," and the "non-custodial parent" was allotted "visitation rights." The terms "custody" and "visitation" have been done away with and replaced with "allocation of parenting time and responsibility." The intention is to soften the blow for the parent who would have previously been labeled as "non-custodial" and to reduce custody disputes. 

In addition, parenting responsibility is divided into four categories: medical, education, religious, and extra-curricular. The responsibility for making decisions regarding these separate categories will be divided among the parents by agreement or court order. 

Changes to Illinois Law Regarding Parents Relocating

Prior to 2016, the custodial parent could move anywhere within the state of Illinois without approval from the court, but a move out of state would require court approval, regardless of the actual change in distance. As of 2016, a court order is required for moves of more than 25 miles. Moves within 25 miles are permitted without court approval, even if they are out of state. If the party is seeking to relocate lives outside the Chicago metropolitan area, they are permitted to move 50 miles within Illinois without a court order.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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