The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) will look a bit different when 2016 arrives. First created in the 1970s, the law was last updated in the 1990s. The upcoming changes reflect today’s society and take a realistic view of the situations that many couples find themselves in when trying to end their marriage. The changes take effect on January 1, 2016 and a knowledgeable attorney can help you determine how the changes may affect your specific situation.
Divorce Grounds – One Ground for Divorce
Currently, an Illinois divorce proceeding begins with a spouse choosing among numerous grounds for divorce, including:
- Abandonment for at least one year;
- Alcohol or drug addiction for at least two years;
- Attempted murder of spouse;
- Repeated physical or mental cruelty;
- A felony conviction;
- Infecting spouse with a sexually transmitted disease; and
- Irreconcilable differences if the spouses have lived separate and apart for a continuous two years.
The majority of these grounds only allowed for an “innocent” spouse to file for divorce within the state of Illinois. One spouse was burdened with proving the bad actions of the other spouse, which brought even more contention and animosity into an already delicate situation.
Under the new IMDMA, the sole ground for divorce will be irreconcilable differences. Neither spouse will have to prove the wrongdoings of the other spouse in a time consuming hearing. Lawmakers hope that this option will lead to increased cooperation and effective co-parenting. They only have to meet the time requirement for separation to secure a divorce.
The long and sometimes excruciating 24-month waiting period is also a thing of the past. Previously, the spouses had to live apart for two years, or mutually agree to reduce the time to six months. This could prove particularly troublesome if one spouse did not want to expedite the divorce. The state has reduced the waiting period to six months, by creating presumption in the law.
Determination of Marital Property
Under the current Illinois divorce law, all newly acquired property was considered marital until the execution of the divorce decree. Starting in 2016, the marital classification of all newly acquired property ends at the filing of the divorce petition.
Valuation of assets
The courts will now use a fair market method to determine value. This means that the property will be evaluated based on its value at the time of the hearing or some other mutually agreed upon date.
Low-Cost Joint Divorce
Under the current law, the low-cost divorce option is only available to couples with a combined income of $30,000 or less. Under the new changes, the allowed collective income doubles to $60,000, making this option available to many more people.
If you are considering a divorce within the state of Illinois, contact the Law Office of Elizabeth J. Chacko, P.C. for a comprehensive consultation. Serving clients in Naperville, Wheaton and Downers Grove, our attorneys can provide you with experienced representation.