Senate Bill 57 has significantly altered the laws and statutes of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act (IMDMA), including those that govern how child support and spousal maintenance are handled during divorce proceedings. Accurate information on these changes may be especially important for divorcing couples that have limited earning potential or excessive amounts of debt, or for those that have mentally or physically disabled children.
Changes to Illinois Spousal Maintenance Laws
Although it is extremely unlikely that every divorce action will include a provision for spousal maintenance, the changes brought about by Senate Bill 57 (effective January 1, 2016) have significantly altered how courts decide when to award spousal support. Now, financial obligations that have emerged from the divorce, along with realistic present and future earning potential are considered.
For those that suffer any impairment of their earning capacity – be it through parenting responsibilities, limited earning potential, health issues, or age – those factors will be considered. Other considerations that will be made include station, occupation amount, vocational skills, estate, liabilities, personal needs, and sources of private or public income. Any major gaps in these areas could impact if, and to what extent, spousal maintenance will be included in a divorce.
Changes to Illinois Child Support Laws
Senate Bill 57 also made some substantial changes to child support laws, including when the amount of support may be modified in its amount or duration; now, unless the parenting agreement expressly states otherwise, a substantial change in circumstances (such as loss of job or new financial obligations) can justify a reassessment in child support obligation.
Educational expenses have also been addressed in the new bill, enabling non-minor children to receive college support until their 23rd birthday if they are pursuing an education. In certain cases, with evidence of good cause, this provision may be extended to the child's 25th birthday. Factors included in the determination of support are the adult child's educational expenses for tuition, academic fees, housing costs, medical expenses, reasonable living costs (including meal plans), books, and supplies needed to attend schooling.
Mentally or physically disabled children have also received attention in the new child support law. Life payments are now possible, and they can be made to either a parent or a trust that benefits the child. A list of factors is now provided to the court regarding when this provision should be used to ensure the support of a disabled non-minor child, including current and projected future financial resources for both parents and the child.
Get Qualified and Experienced Assistance with Your Divorce
In light of all the recent changes to Illinois divorce laws, couples will be best served by a divorce attorney during the proceedings. This is especially true when there are extenuating circumstances, such as an adult child that is disabled or pursuing an education or one party is significantly less employable than the other. To schedule your free initial consultation with an award-winning DuPage County divorce attorney, contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC at 630-932-9100 today.
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