New Changes to Illinois Family Law Coming January 1, 2018
Since 2014 the Illinois Legislature has made significant changes to Illinois family law. The first change was in 2014 when it modified the way spousal maintenance was calculated (effective January 1, 2015). Then in 2015 it repealed the Parentage Act of 1984 and replaced it with the Parentage Act of 2015 and made extensive modifications to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). These changes took effect January 1, 2016. The next change was in 2016 and changed how support was calculated in Illinois and took effect July 1, 2017. Summaries of these changes can be found on our web-site. Now the Legislature has passed HB 2537 which became Public Act 100-0520 on September 22, 2017. Public Act 100-0520 makes changes to the Illinois spousal maintenance law and streamlines the process for name changes. The law was originally scheduled to take effect June 1, 2018, but Public Act 100-0565 now makes it effective January 1, 2018. If you have any questions about any of these changes, the attorneys at Allison & Mosby-Scott can help. Please visit our website or contact us at 309-662-5084.
Name Change under the Act
The Act first makes changes to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure. Specifically, the Act adds section 21-103.5 which requires that actual notice be given to any parent whose parental rights have not been terminated and to any person who has been allocated parental responsibilities under the IMDMA. The Act states:
735 ILCS 5/21-103.5 Change of name involving a minor
In any application for a change of name involving a minor, before a judgment under this Article may be entered, actual notice and opportunity to be heard shall be given to any parent whose parental rights have not been previously terminated and to any person who has been allocated parental responsibilities under Section 602.5 or 602.7 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. If any of these persons is outside this State, notice and an opportunity to be heard shall be given under Section 21-104.
The Act also makes it easier for divorcing spouses to change their names. Instead of forcing a divorcing spouse to file a separate chancery action for a name change, the Act mandates that judgements of dissolution contain a provision authorizing the person to resume the use of their former name should they choose to do so, and at any time. The Act changes 750 ILCS 5/413 by changing subsection (c) as follows:
(c) Unless the person whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid requests otherwise, the judgment under this Section shall contain a provision authorizing the person to resume the use of his or her former or maiden name, should he or she choose to do so, at any time he or she chooses to do so. Upon request by a wife whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid, the court shall order her maiden name or a former name restored.
Changes to how the maintenance is calculated.
The most significant change made by the Act are the changes to 750 ILCS 5/504, involving the calculation and duration of spousal maintenance. The Act also increases the gross-income ceiling for cases which the guidelines apply from $250,000 to $500,000 and clarifies that it is annual income.
Currently, under 750 ILCS 5/504, the duration of maintenance is calculated based on intervals of five-year periods the marriage lasted. For example, a marriage that lasted five years or less receives different treatment than one that lasted more than five but less than 10 years. This approach under the current law had been subject to much criticism from the family law bar. Many had complained that it seemed arbitrary that a one day difference in the date of filing for divorce would result in a doubling of the modifier used to determine how long a spouse will receive maintenance. For example, under current law, if a divorce was filed on the 364th day of the fourth year of marriage, the modifier was .02. But if the divorce was filed one day later on the 1st day of the fifth year the modifier was .04. The law was also criticized for treating a nine year 364 day marriage the same as a five year marriage. The Act changes the formula in response to these criticisms. While the new formula still treats the first five years of marriage the same way the current law does, now contains separate modifiers for each year between five and twenty.
The Act changes 750 ILCS 5/504(b-1) as follows:
(b-1) Amount and duration of maintenance. If the court determines that a maintenance award is appropriate, the court shall order maintenance in accordance with either paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection (b-1):
(1) Maintenance award in accordance with guidelines. In situations when the combined gross annual income of the parties is less than $500,000 $250,000 and the payor has no obligation to pay child support or maintenance or both from a prior relationship, maintenance payable after the date the parties’ marriage is dissolved shall be in accordance with subparagraphs (A) and (B) of this paragraph (1), unless the court makes a finding that the application of the guidelines would be inappropriate.
(A) The amount of maintenance under this paragraph (1) shall be calculated by taking 30% of the payor’s gross annual income minus 20% of the payee’s gross annual income. The amount calculated as maintenance, however, when added to the gross income of the payee, may not result in the payee receiving an amount that is in excess of 40% of the combined gross income of the parties.
(B) The duration of an award under this paragraph (1) shall be calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage at the time the action was commenced by whichever of the following factors applies: less than 5 years (.20); 5 years or more but less than 6 years (.24); 6 years or more but less than 7 years (.28); 7 years or more but less than 8 years (.32); 8 years or more but less than 9 years (.36); 9 years or more but less than 10 years (.40); 10 years or more but less than 11 years (.44); 11 years or more but less than 12 years (.48); 12 years or more but less than 13 years (.52); 13 years or more but less than 14 years (.56); 14 years or more but less than 15 years (.60); 15 years or more but less than 16 years (.64); 16 years or more but less than 17 years (.68); 17 years or more but less than 18 years (.72); 18 years or more but less than 19 years (.76); 19 years or more but less than 20 years (.80). 5 years or less (.20); more than 5 years but less than 10 years (.40); 10 years or more but less than 15 years (.60); or 15 years or more but less than 20 years (.80). For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court, in its discretion, shall order either permanent maintenance or maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage or for an indefinite term.
Doing the math, one can see that if the parties were married one year, maintenance would last 2.4 months. If they were married 4 years and 364 days, maintenance would last one year. This would be the same under the current law and new Act. But if the parties were married 5 years and a day, maintenance would last 2 years under the current law but only 1.2 years under the new Act.