How Divorce Laws Have Changed Over the Years

You may have been unaware of the changes when they happened, but the beginning of 2016 saw some significant alterations made to the divorce laws in the state of Illinois, and there are even more changes to come in 2017.  Here’s a quick look at some of the recently redesigned laws that could affect the impact of divorce in our state:

Grounds for Divorce Reduced

The list of acceptable grounds for divorce has been reduced from 11 specific items to only one.  The only grounds for divorce in Illinois now is the all-encompassing “irreconcilable differences”.  This has altered the previous requirement period of couples to live separate and apart prior to filing for their divorce, the length of which used to be determined based on the stated grounds for divorce.  The new law allows couples to sign an agreement that they both waive the formerly required waiting period, allowing them to file immediately.

New Terms for Custody and Visitation

The terms of “custody” and “visitation” have been retired in an effort give the transition of child custody less negative connotations for the previously ruled “non-custodial parent”.  The court will now use the term “allocation of parenting time and responsibility” in lieu of the former terms, which it is hoped will lead to a reduction of future custody disputes.

Parenting Responsibility Categories

What the court now considers “parenting responsibility” has been divided into these four specific categories:

  • Medical
  • Education
  • Religious
  • Extracurricular

Couples willing to agree on the division of responsibility for these categories can do so, but if they cannot, the court can order this division.

Redefined Relocation Laws

The parent of a child for whom custody has already been negotiated will now be required to receive a court order for any move over 25 miles.  The law prior to this change in 2016 was looser, allowing moves anywhere within the state without needing court approval.

These newly redesigned laws will fortunately do little to affect couples looking to seek a no-fault or uncontested divorce and who are willing to file the divorce papers Illinois requires without hiring an attorney.  Couples interested in pursuing the DIY divorce option should still find the process to be less expensive and more streamlined alternative to more traditional forms of divorce proceedings in which each party must retain their own legal counsel, and this is undeniably good news for Illinois residents looking to avoid costly court battles.