Articles Posted in Post-Decree

Imagine the following scenario:  Donald and his wife Melania decide they want to get a divorce.  Donald has been employed as the President of the United States for the past two years, where he earns a salary of $400,000, and receives travel, expense, and entertainment perks.  Melania mostly spends her days shopping on QVC, pampering herself at the spa, and taking tennis lessons while the nanny watches their son, Junior.  In the judgment of dissolution of marriage, the court orders Donald to pay Melania $20,000.00 each month for child support until Junior attains the age of 18.

Donald Face

Two years pass after the divorce, and Donald finds himself running for reelection.  However, because the stress of the first presidency took its toll on Donald, he goes to the barber and gets a buzzcut, in a vain attempt to assert some semblance of control over his life.  Without his signature hairstyle, his polling numbers plummet, and he loses the election in a landslide so dramatic that even Walter Mondale has to laugh.

 

Donald now finds himself out of work, and struggles to find a suitable career in which to apply his unparalleled talent for bombast and bluster.  He applies for a slew of entry level positions on monster.com, to no avail.  Every prospective employer tells him that he’s overqualified.  Destitute and feeling like he’s run out of options, Donald decides to start an extermination business called “Cockroach, You’re a Loser.”  Donald exhibits a newly-discovered knack for the entrepreneurial, and nets a tidy profit of about $25,000.00 in his first full year of business.  Because it is a far cry from his former earnings, Donald files a petition to reduce his child support obligation based on an involuntary reduction in income.  Fearing a drastic reduction in her own standard of living, Melania asks the court to deny Donald’s request.

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Divorces in Illinois have been governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, originally enacted in 1979.  Since then, changes in family dynamics, including recent developments in Illinois law related to same-sex marriage, parentage, adoption, and in areas of embryo preservation and rights, rendered the law outdated and in need of an update.  For years, Illinois legislators, judges, and prominent practitioners in the field have pushed for a revised version of the Act, but only recently has this been accomplished.

 

The revised law, which will become effective on January 1, 2016, has been updated in several significant ways that impact how divorces and related issues will be addressed.  The law will apply to new and pending cases and will change the way that divorcing parties navigate the process of divorce.

divorce word cluster

The following is a brief summary of some of the important changes to the Act:

 

Grounds:

 

Presently, a person seeking a divorce must allege “grounds” for the divorce.  Most commonly, people cite “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for a divorce.  To prove irreconcilable differences have arisen to cause a marriage to fail, the party filing for divorce must prove that the parties have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of in excess of two years, or agree with the other party to waive the separation period if they have lived apart for six months.  The must also prove that the marriage is over and not salvageable.  The other fault-based reasons include: impotency, adultery, desertion, habitual drunkenness, excessive use of addictive drugs, poisoning, extreme  and repeated physical or mental cruelty, one party being convicted of a felony or other infamous crime, or infecting the other spouse with a sexually transmitted disease.

 

The revised law eliminates all of the fault-based grounds for getting divorced, leaving the only grounds of irreconcilable differences.  Further, instead of having to prove a statutory period of separation, the new law eliminates the separation period as well. These changes shift the focus away from having the parties blame one another for the divorce in order to allow them to proceed as amicably and quickly as possible.

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