After 40 Years, New Changes are Coming to Family Court.

FlagIllinois’ law governing marriage and divorce, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, was passed in 1977.  Most of the changes that are coming deal with the legal processes of getting divorced and sorting out child custody. Senate Bill 57 completely removes the concept of custody, joint or otherwise. Instead, courts would assign different child care responsibilities to each parent. This will be a significant change which should keep parents from fighting so much in court.  If one parent can be responsible for medical decisions, and the other parent responsible for school decisions, then the child can have two active parents in his life.  Also, the parent who doesn’t have the child the majority of the time, can still feel like a parent, instead of a visitor.

The bill also takes away the part of divorce proceedings requiring a separate hearing in which couples have to prove to a court why they should be granted a divorce.  Couples can instead focus on what their kids needs instead of proving who is to blame in a divorce.  The concept of imposing blame on the other parent wastes a lot of time, frankly, a lot of money that the couple can spend in other places.

The bill would also eliminate so-called “heart-balm” provisions that allow a jilted spouse to sue an ex-spouse for cheating or the ex-spouse’s paramour for breaking up the marriage.
The bill passed the Illinois House with bipartisan support in the previous legislative session, but it died in the Senate without a vote. This session, it passed the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee in February on a party-line vote.

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