The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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Changes to Illinois Family Law

Aurora Family Law Lawyer

2019 Updates to Spousal Maintenance Laws

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made a major change in how spousal maintenance (alimony) payments are taxed. Prior to this change, a person who paid alimony to their former partner could deduct this amount from their taxable income, and the recipient of spousal maintenance would pay taxes on these payments. For divorces which were finalized on or after January 1, 2019, the reverse is now true: maintenance is not tax-deductible for the payor or taxable for the recipient. Divorces finalized prior to that date will continue to be taxed as they were before.

In response to this change, the state of Illinois updated its laws to adjust the formula used to calculate maintenance payments. Maintenence is now determined by taking 33 1/3% of the payor's net annual income and subtracting 25% of the payee's net annual income. The duration that maintenance will be paid is calculated using a percentage of the length of the couple's marriage.

2017 Updates to Illinois Child Support Laws

Prior to July 2107, child support payments from a non-residential parent to a residential parent were based solely on the non-residential parent's income and the number of children. In July 2017, a new child support law took effect revamping how child support payments are calculated. The court will now consider both parents' incomes, as well as the amount of parental responsibility and parenting time that each parent has with their children.

2016 Updates to Child Custody and Visitation Laws

For the last four decades, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has provided the primary legal basis for most family law concerns throughout the state. Although the IMDMA has been gradually revised since it was originally enacted, many of its provisions have remained relatively untouched for almost 40 years. In the spring of 2015, however, the Illinois State Legislature passed a measure that looked to substantially update the IMDMA on several different areas of focus. Senate Bill 57 was signed by the governor in August 2015, and the sweeping amendments took effect on January 1, 2016.

Child Custody vs. Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

The updated IMDMA provides a new way for parents and the courts to think about raising a child following a divorce, separation, or break-up. The previous version of the law provided two options for parenting situations: sole custody or joint custody. In a sole custody arrangement, one parent would be granted all of the authority for important decision-making regarding the child, while such responsibilities would be shared by both parents under a joint custody order. Titles such as "custodial" and "non-custodial" parent tended to imply that one parent was more important than the other, often leading to bitter, drawn-out battles over child custody.

Going forward, the entire concept of child custody has been replaced with a more fluid, more cooperative term: allocation of parental responsibilities. The parenting plans created during divorce will not specify that parents have sole or joint custody, nor will either party be labeled as a custodial or non-custodial parent. Instead, parents are expected to work together in raising their child, with each parent's rights being fully respected and protected. However, one party will be considered the primary residential parent for purposes of determining the child's school district and permanent address.

In any such proceeding, the court expects divorcing or separating parents to present a proposed parenting plan, outlining the significant decision-making responsibilities each parent will have. The plan must also include a schedule for each parent's time with the child, and a means for resolving future disagreements. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court is granted the discretion to allocate parental responsibilities between the parents as deemed to be in the child's best interests.

Parental Visitation Now Called Parenting Time

Under the new IMDMA guidelines, one parent will typically be granted a majority of the parenting time so as to provide the child with a stable basis for school attendance and as the basis for a child support order. While the previous law presumed a parent's right to reasonable visitation with his or her child, the amended law recognizes that a parent is much more than a temporary visitor in a child's life. As such, the wording in the law has been changed, and a parent is now presumed to have the right to reasonable parenting time with the child, regardless of the amount of significant decision-making responsibilities he or she may have been allocated. In the event a court determines that a parent's time with the child presents a danger to the child, it may impose limitations or restrictions to keep the child safe, such as requiring supervision during a parent's parenting time.

If you have questions regarding the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, it is important to speak with a qualified legal professional. Contact us to schedule a consultation today. We are proud to serve clients from our offices located in Aurora, Illinois.

The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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