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Illinois House bill would revamp marriage, divorce, custody laws

Apparently Otto von Bismarck never actually said, "Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made." Whoever did say it first certainly had it right, though. Just ask the committee that has been studying Illinois' family laws for the past four years.

The committee's work may be coming to a successful end soon, if the fruit of its labors, a 187-page bill, makes it through the Illinois General Assembly this year. HB 1452 is now with the House Judiciary Committee, awaiting approval before being sent to the full House for a vote. Hearings were scheduled for some time this week.

The bill represents the first major overhaul of the state's marriage, divorce and child custody laws in 35 years. For the most part, the changes reflect how the law has changed in the past three decades. The new language is true to how things are done now, and the repealed laws are ones that are clearly outdated.

Some key provisions include:

No-fault is the only "fault": The bill would remove the requirement that there be grounds for a divorce. Parties need only prove that "irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage" -- the no-fault option currently in place. The bill does require that the court find that attempts to reconcile have failed or that any future attempts would fail. It also allows the court a presumption of irreconcilable differences if the couple has been separated for six months in a row.

Timing of decrees: The bill requires the court to issue divorce judgments within 60 days of the case being heard. Under special circumstances, the court can have an additional 30 days, but the court must make a showing of "good cause" for the delay. The rule applies to legal separations and annulments (declarations of invalidity of marriage) as well.

We'll continue this in our next post.

Sources:

KMOX/CBS Local, "Illinois House Considers Changes To Divorce Laws," April 15, 2013

State of Illinois 98th General Assembly, HB1452 as introduced

Our firm works with families on matters like the ones discussed in this post. Please visit our website for more information about our Lake County, Illinois, practice.

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