New Changes to Divorce Law in Illinois

Commencing on January 1, 2016, the Illinois legislature made many changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Many of the changes are quite sweeping and are far different from what divorce lawyers in Illinois have known. Below are a few of the new laws which are now the law of the land.

Grounds for Divorce

The new law in Illinois has eliminated the fault based grounds for divorce. Since 1977, Illinois had both “fault” and “no fault” grounds for divorce. With the new law, however, Illinois residents are limited to one ground to get divorced, “irreconcilable differences.” Irreconcilable differences, in a nutshell, means it wasn’t the fault of either party, the marriage just didn’t work.

Additionally, there used to be a requirement that the parties be separated for two (2) years. Today, that requirement no longer exists. The new statute now has a six (6) month separation period. As with the old law, parties can live under the same roof and still be living “separate and apart.” Divorcing parties do not have to be actually physically living separate from each other. The parties wishing to be divorced simply have to stop living as husband and wife for six (6) months.

Maintenance/Spousal Support

Beginning in 2015, the maintenance (formerly known as alimony)statute was changed. Under the former statute, judges had no formula when awarding one spouse maintenance. For the most part, it was really a crap shoot as to what a judge would award a spouse in maintenance, both in terms of amount and duration. And, each judge was different. Some judges were very generous with awarding maintenance and some were very tight and strict. Today, there is now a formula judges are to use when dealing with combined incomes of less than $250,000.00(if the parties earn more than $250,000.00,then the formula doesn’t apply). While this formula is intended to make the awards of maintenance more consistent between judges, if there is good cause shown, the judge can disregard the formula and award (or not) maintenance on other factors the court deems fit.

Custody and Visitation

Perhaps the biggest revisions now appear in issues related to children. The terms “custody” and “visitation” have been replaced with “allocation of parental responsibility” and “allocation of parenting time,” respectively. It seems that our lawmakers wanted to use less contentious terms in the hopes that parents wouldn’t have knockdown, drag out fights regarding their children. Today, rather than “winning” custody, the parents can structure a parenting plan to serve the best interests of their children. Additionally, parents can now allocate responsibilities based on what they have traditionally controlled in the past. For example, if one parent traditionally took the kids to their extracurricular activities, then that parent can be awarded “parental responsibility” for that area while the other parent can be awarded “parental responsibility” for religious or educational issues. There is more flexibility today.


If you are going through a divorce and have questions or concerns with the new laws, then contact Taradash Given, P.C. We have attorneys who are familiar with the new laws and can guide you through the process. Feel free to call (312) 775-1020 to speak with a lawyer or click here for a free, no hassle consultation.

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