Illinois Updates Its Divorce and Parentage Laws

pair-707506_1920In an attempt to modernize laws related to families, Illinois has substantially re-written the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and the Illinois Parentage Act. Previous versions of these acts were created in 1977 and 1984, respectively.  Both new versions of the statutes went into effect on January 1, 2016.

Since then, the governor of Illinois also signed a Public Act 99-0764 into law, which changes how child support will be calculated. This bill, however, will not become effective until July 1, 2017, thereby giving time to law practitioners to become accustomed with the new law, and most importantly, for the Illinois child support enforcement agencies to adjust their databases to the new calculations.

For those interested in the new child support law based on income shares, please take a look at

Here are several changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and the Illinois Parentage Act effective on January 1, 2016:

  1. There are no more so-called “fault” grounds for divorce and the court is no longer interested in who is to blame for the impending divorce. “Irreconcilable differences” is the only remaining divorce reason you can cite in your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. In addition, the new law creates an irrefutable presumption that irreconcilable differences resulted in a total breakdown of the marriage if the parties have been separated for more than six months prior to the final hearing in the divorce proceeding. You can be considered “separated” even if you continue living in the same household.
  2. Instead of granting custody to only one of the parents, parental responsibilities are assigned based on the best interests of the child. Parental responsibilities are broken down to decision-making and parenting time. The new law specifies what it considers major parental decisions:  education, health care, religious upbringing, and extra-curricular activities.  Previously, if one parent was granted sole custody it automatically meant that such parent would make all major decisions regarding the minor child.  The new law allows parents to divide areas of responsibility.  For example, one parent may have the final decision for education-related issues, while the other has the final decision for medical care.  Perhaps they could then make joint decisions related to religious upbringing and extra-curricular activities.
  3. Before the new law was enacted, the custodial parent could move within the Illinois state borders without the court’s permission. However, once a state line was crossed, the custodial parent was then required to get the court’s permission to move, even if they only moved a short distance. The new law allows the parent to move with the children up to 25 miles from their residence in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will counties, even if that move would cross into another state.  In other Illinois counties residential parents can move up to 50 miles without seeking the court’s approval.  Any move outside the permitted mileage requires a notice to the other parent.  If notice is signed off by the non-moving parent and filed with the court, the move can proceed as planned.  Otherwise, the moving parent must petition the court to be granted permission to move.
  4. In the past one was able to sue their spouse for reasons other than divorce.  The new act abolished these antiquated causes of action which were still on the books:  alienation of affection, breach of promise to marry, and criminal conversations.
  5. To see a full version of the new Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act please go to:
  6. The new Parentage Act continues to define families as having only two parents. However, one of the major changes of the new law is gender-neutrality, which grants the parental rights and responsibilities to both parents, regardless of gender.
  7. Another change in the Parentage Act is the court’s ability to deny motions for DNA testing. There are cases where an individual has been acting as the child’s parent, and the court determines it would be harmful to the child to disprove the parent-child relationship.
  8. To see a full version of the new Illinois Parentage Act, please go to:  

For any questions or concerns about these new laws and how they might affect your personal situation, please contact me at (630) 780-1044 for a personal consultation.


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