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Illinois lawmakers are making an effort to overhaul several of the state’s divorce and custody laws. The Senate reportedly passed SB57 in April. Now, its sponsors are hoping to find the same success in the House. The proposed legislation stems from a research study by The Illinois Family Law Study Committee, an advisory board of legislative members tasked with reviewing the existing divorce laws and proposing new updates.


As reported by the Illinois Times, seven years of analysis led to recommendations that incorporate modern-day ideas about family with the current divorce and custody regulations, which have not been majorly updated since 1977. The primary goal of the bill is to lessen the adversary nature of divorce and make the entire process more cooperative for spouses, as well as the children involved.


Bill Provisions


One provision of the bill eliminates the traditional concept of custody. Instead of granting a custodial designation of joint or sole custodian, the court will assign each parent specific childcare duties. According to advocates of the bill, this change will promote communication between the parents and prevent any parent from feeling as though they “lost” custody of their child or children.


Another controversial proposal in the bill is the elimination of divorce grounds. Currently, Illinois residents have to provide the court with satisfactory proof that a reason for divorce exists. Under the current laws, grounds for divorce include:


  • Adultery;
  • Bigamy;
  • Impotence at the time of the marriage;
  • Desertion for at least a year;
  • Drug addiction or drunkenness for at least two years;
  • Extreme and repeated physical or mental cruelty;
  • Conviction of a felony or other infamous crime; and
  • Irreconcilable differences, which requires proof that:
    • The parties have continuously lived separate and apart for at least two years (may be waived);
    • Irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;
    • Efforts at reconciliation have failed; and/or
    • Future attempts at reconciliation would not in the best interest of the family.


Supporters assert that the current laws force spouses to speak negatively about one another, adding to an already tense situation. Anti-divorce groups reportedly spoke against this portion of the bill, asserting that it makes the marriage dissolution process too easy, which will ultimately lead to an increase in the number of divorces.


Bill supporters also want to eliminate “heart-balm” legal provisions, which provide relief for a spouse to file suit against a cheating ex-spouse or the paramour. They assert that these cases are so difficult to successfully pursue that they have become virtually obsolete.


Other resolutions within the bill include:


  • A requirement for parents to act with fairness when making custody determinations; and
  • A requirement that a parent give three days’ notice before relocating out of state with the child.

Contact a divorce attorney at the Law Office of Elizabeth J. Chacko, P.C. today for a consultation if you are interested in pursuing a divorce. Serving clients in Naperville, Wheaton, and Downers Grove, our skilled lawyers are available to assist with all of your divorce and custody needs.


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