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Significant Changes to Family Law in Illinois

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), which governs marriage, divorce, custody, and support in Illinois, is undergoing a major overhaul. Senate Bill 57, which was passed on May 31 and approved by the governor on July 21 of this year, will go into effect on January 1, 2016 and has major implications for many aspects of Illinois family law.

"Heart Balm" Action Implications

Senate Bill 57 eliminates a category of civil actions known as "heart balm" actions, due to the idea that the person bringing the lawsuit is doing so due to a broken heart. Plaintiffs will no longer be able to bring actions for alienation of affection (an action against a third party, such as a spouse's lover or family member, for causing the breakdown of the marriage), breach of promise to marry (an action against a former partner for a broken engagement), or "criminal conversion" (an action for adultery). The Illinois Bar Law Journal noted in their findings that the general assembly pointed to heart balm action as based on antiquated notions of gender roles, and used to harass rather than to mend broken hearts.

is undergoing a major overhaul. Senate Bill 57, which was passed on May 31 and approved by the governor on July 21 of this year, will go into effect on January 1, 2016 and has major implications for many aspects of Illinois family law.

"Heart Balm" Action Implications

Senate Bill 57 eliminates a category of civil actions known as "heart balm" actions, due to the idea that the person bringing the lawsuit is doing so due to a broken heart. Plaintiffs will no longer be able to bring actions for alienation of affection (an action against a third party, such as a spouse's lover or family member, for causing the breakdown of the marriage), breach of promise to marry (an action against a former partner for a broken engagement), or "criminal conversion" (an action for adultery). The Illinois Bar Law Journal noted in their findings that the general assembly pointed to heart balm action as based on antiquated notions of gender roles, and used to harass rather than to mend broken hearts.

Family Law Implications

The General Assembly's changes to family law are similarly significant. The changes to divorce law, including an elimination of fault grounds for divorce, represent an attempt to "get rid of legal fictions" and allow the process to reflect what the General Assembly believes to be the real dynamics of divorce. The bill also changes the process for allocating marital property, and requires the court to provide rationale for the allocations made during property division.

Similarly, the changes to custody law--now identified as the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time--also appear to reflect the realities of co-parenting after a divorce. The bill focuses on allocating parenting time between the parents and designating which parent is responsible for which significant decisions about the children, rather than determining "sole" or "joint" custody.

The bill also makes significant changes to the requirements regarding parental relocation; parents will now be required to obtain leave of court to relocate based on distance, rather than whether or not the new residence is out-of-state. That change also reflects the reality for many parents; if the original residence is near the Illinois border, moving out-of-state may be potentially more convenient for continuing a parenting plan than moving within the Illinois border.

Contact Our Illinois Family Law Attorneys

With all of these changes about to go into effect, it is important to find an attorney who is experienced in family law and will be able to help you navigate new requirements. If you have questions about what these changes might mean for you, contact the experienced DuPage County family law attorneys at The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. to schedule an consultation.

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