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illinois divorce law changes, kane county divorce attorneysIf you are an Illinois resident currently in the midst of the divorce process, you may have concerns about recent changes in divorce law that passed in 2016 and how they might affect you and your family once your divorce is final. The good news is that a majority of these changes were put into motion to ease common divorce tensions, with the goal to reduce conflict and simplify the process as a whole. While there will always be some level of conflict where divorce is concerned, revisions to our state’s laws serve to streamline the experience for each party involved.

Here are a few ways recent law changes have changed how couples divorce, but for the better:

1. Revisions to Grounds for Divorce

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Posted on in Child Support

Kane County child support lawyersWhile very few people would dispute the appropriateness or the need for child support, there are differing opinions regarding how support payments should be determined. For many years, Illinois law based child support calculations primarily on the income of the supporting parent and the number of children needing support. Beginning next summer, however, the state’s approach will be changing to one that is seen by many as more equitable since it accounts for both parents’ income and the actual cost of raising a child.

Income Shares Child Support Model

Last summer, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a measure several years in the making. The new law provides a totally updated model for determining a parent’s child support obligation. The method is known as “income shares” and is currently in use in more than three dozen other states. According to the income shares model, the combined income of both parents is used to determine a “basic support amount,” or the amount that the couple would spend on raising their child if they had remained in the same household. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has been tasked with developing a table for determining this amount as a percentage of the parents’ combined income.

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Kane County divorce attorneyThroughout the country, divorce has become a common enough occurrence that many people speak of the process very casually. The seriousness of divorce, as a result, is frequently underestimated. For example, in the 2011 film Crazy Stupid Love, the main character’s work colleagues laugh and celebrate when they discover that he is “merely” getting a divorce and does not have cancer. Such a casual attitude leads many to believe that when a marriage is experiencing problems, it is easy to ask the court to dissolve the relationship. The reality, however, is rather different.

Irreconcilable Differences

According to Illinois law, a judgment of divorce will only be granted on the grounds that “irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” The law goes on to say that the court must also determine that attempts to save the marriage have failed or that future efforts toward reconciliation would be unreasonable and not in the family’s best interests. But, what does that mean?

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Kane County family law attorneyIssues of money and property are often among the most contested elements in any divorce situation. A couple who has spent many years building a life together frequently have trouble disengaging from one another, at least in regard to their assets and debts. When divorcing spouses cannot reach a negotiated agreement regarding how their property will be divided, the court will make such decisions for them. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) provides fairly straightforward guidelines for the distribution of marital property which must be followed by the court.

What Property Will Be Divided?

Before any assets can be distributed, the court must first identify the property that is subject to division. Only assets and debts that are considered marital property will be divided between the spouses. The full listing of a couple’s marital property is sometimes referred to as the “marital estate.” According to Illinois law, the marital estate consists of virtually all property—including assets and debts—acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Very limited exceptions may be made for assets acquired during the marriage as a gift or inheritance to one spouse. Assets that were owned before the marriage are considered non-marital and are not subject to division.

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Posted on in Marital Property

Kane County divorce attorneysIf you are thinking about a divorce, you probably realize that you and your spouse will need to figure out a plan for dividing the property that you own as a couple. You may also understand that if you cannot reach an agreement on your own, the court will need to step in and divide your assets and debts for you. Finally, you may even know that the property division laws in Illinois are based on the principals of equitable distribution, which means that, if left to the court, your marital property will be divided in a way that is fair and just, not necessarily evenly.

Many individuals, however, are unsure about what the law considers to be marital property. Countless movies and television shows suggest that just about anything a person has ever owned—both prior to and during the marriage—is fair game in a divorce. Fictional characters are often encouraged to be wary of marriage because if it ends badly, his or her spouse will supposedly get half of everything. Assuming that the marital property was supposed to be split 50/50 in Illinois, a spouse would not be entitled to a share of anything the other party ever owned. Instead, the law provides a definition of what comprises the marital estate which, at times, can be a little complicated.

When the Property Was Acquired

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