The Modern Family Bill

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On June 29, 2015, a new bill, Senate Bill 57, after passing both houses, was sent to Governor Rauner’s desk.  The current Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (hereinafter referred to as IMDMA) is quite comprehensive, but dates back to the 1970’s.  At the time it was enacted, it was the first major revision to the divorce laws in over one hundred years.  The IMDMA attempted to limit the adversarial relationship between the litigants; now, Bill 57 will go further in that regard, especially in terms of child custody.

Bill 57 has a “feel good” vibe surrounding it as it seeks to avoid creating the winning parent and the losing parent in dissolution actions involving children.  Instead of speaking in terms of “custody,” the Bill refers to allocation of “parental responsibilities.”  It also replaces “Custody Judgments” with “Parenting Plans,” and visitation time with parenting time.

Under Bill 57, each parent is assigned specific parenting tasks in a presumed effort to keep both parents involved in their children’s lives, and also limit litigation over minor disputes.  However, should there be interference or abuse by one parent over the other parent’s parenting time with the minor children, the Bill affords the court more civil remedies to enforce its orders.

Overall, the bill should bring some positive changes to Illinois domestic relations litigation, but it will take time for case law to establish the proper application of the new provisions.

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