If signed into law, the rewrite will eliminate grounds for divorce, shifting the focus away from custody and
One of the most significant changes would be to eliminate all ground for divorce besides irreconcilable differences. The bill will redefine the term as “irretrievable breakdown” of a marriage. Also, when the parties to a divorce action live separate and apart for six months, there is an irrebuttable presumption that the breakdown is irretrievable. The changes will also change the two-year waiting period now required when the parties do not agree to a divorce with a six-month wait. And parties who agree to split can immediately proceed with a divorce rather than waiting six months.
The bill will also move away from focusing on custody and will focus on parental responsibility. Those responsibilities can be broken out into categories reflecting different needs a child may have and designated to one parent or both. Different categories may be education, health, religion and extracurricular activities.
The bill will also make significant changes to decisions about parental relocation. The law now allows a parent with residential custody to move anywhere in the state. Under the new provisions, parents with residential custody residing in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties may move up to 25 miles from their current residence without leave of court. Parents in other counties may move up to 50 miles from their current residence without leave of court. Another change will be allowing a parent with residential custody to move 25 miles away, even if that is across the state line; Illinois courts can retain jurisdiction over the custody case in this situation.
Another major change will be the timeframe for entry of an order of dissolution. Under the current law, cases can remain open long after the proofs are closed. The amendments will require that the judge enter an order of dissolution within 60 days of the closing of proofs and the court may extend this period by 30 days.
The process for allocating marital property and awarding maintenance would also change. If the bill passes, the courts will be required to provide reasons for the allocations they make and it will also allow for setting fixed periods where maintenance cannot be changed via a court order. This last provisions would only be allowed for marriages that have lasted for 10 years of less. Currently, all maintenance orders are subject to review and alteration if a party files a motion. These amendments will give courts the ability to look at the entirety of the case and determine whether maintenance should be fixed or reviewable.
Last but not least, the bill will eliminate actions such as alienation of affection, breach of promise to marry, and criminal conversation (adultery).
These new changes may be different for those attorneys that have been practicing for a while but if the bill passes, it will be a move in the right direction.