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New Laws for Divorce in Illinois 2016

Recently enacted legislation means that substantial change is coming in the way Illinois courts will handle divorce cases. These new laws will go into effect on January 1, 2016.
Currently, in Illinois, there is a distinction between divorces based on fault grounds, such as adultery and mental cruelty and no-fault divorces based on irreconcilable differences. But, effective January 1, 2016, the distinction between fault and no-fault divorce in Illinois will be done away with. Beginning on that date, the only recognized grounds for divorce in Illinois will be “irreconcilable differences.” When a couple has lived separate and apart for at least 6 months there will be no further evidence needed to prove that irreconcilable differences exist.
Currently, Illinois courts determine child custody, which they will no longer do in 2016. They will instead follow modified laws which will describe how to “allocate parental responsibility.”  No longer will parents be given “sole or joint custody,” or receive a designation as a primary residential parent. Courts will still consider a child’s best interests and determine how much time a divorcing parent should spend with their child, but the changes in terminology will coincide with some changes in how judges make those decisions.
Additionally, the rules on where a parent can move are going to change. Currently, a parent with primary residential custody[1] can move anywhere in the state of Illinois without a court’s permission, no matter how far away from the other parent their children would then live. But they can’t move out of state without a court’s permission. This leads to the odd result that a parent in Gurnee could move with their kids to Carbondale, but not to Kenosha, Wisconsin, just 30 minutes away! Starting next year parents who have been allocated a share of parental responsibility, and who live in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, McHenry, or Lake Counties will be able to move with their children up to 25 miles, including across state lines, without court permission but will need permission for any move, including an in-state move, greater than that distance. In all other counties in Illinois, relocations that exceed 50 miles will require a judge’s permission. These are just a few examples of changes in the family law which will impact divorcing spouses.

[1] And remember, there will be no such thing as primary residential custody starting in 2016.


The attorneys at the Law Offices of Edward P. Graham, Ltd. have over twenty-five years experience in handling divorce, parentage, adoption, and post-decree family law cases. If you, a family member, or a friend could benefit from our experience, please contact us at (630)357-2333 or visit our website at for more information.

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