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Understanding the New Illinois Family Court Procedures for Cases Involving Children

While most people have heard about the major changes to the Illinois family law system set to take effect January 1, 2016, many are not aware that family court procedures also changing. The process can be just as important as the substance of the law in determining the best way to handle your case. 

New Law and New Process

The new law has eliminated references to child custody in favor of setting out parental responsibilities and parenting time. While the old process relied on temporary custody and visitation orders and mandatory mediation for custody issues to try and foster stability for children and bring the parties to a resolution of child issues as quickly as possible, the new law takes a different approach.

Parties will now have 120 days to submit a parenting plan once the petition for a case has been served. The parties can file a joint plan or separate plans. While the court can extend the timeline for good cause, the law is clear that judges are to encourage the parties to resolve parenting issues quickly.

If the plans are not filed, or the plans submitted are in conflict, the court must hold an evidentiary hearing to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities that is in the best interests of the child.

Parents will still be required to take a mandatory four-hour parenting class at the outset of a court case. It appears that mandatory mediation rules will also still be in effect if the parties cannot come to an agreement.

The Status of Local Rules

Many counties have local rules that govern the court process when children are involved. Most local rules make reference to the law that is going to be replaced on January 1, 2016. New local rules will need to be written to reflect the changes in the terminology and substance of the law, or courts will need to rule that the local rules be read as applying to the changes in the law.

What Has Not Changed

While there are many changes to the Illinois family law structure, some aspects are not changing. Courts will still have the responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interests of the child. Additionally, both parties will continue to have the right to present evidence and to demonstrate to the court why their parenting plan should be adopted. The new law has not changed any of the rights that parents and children have in the family court system.

If you have questions about parenting time or parental responsibilities under Illinois law, please contact a knowledgeable DuPage County family law attorney right away. Call The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. at 630-462-9500 to schedule your consultation today.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ILCS/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59

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