Senate Bill 57, which went into effect on January 1, 2016, made several significant changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Focused on simplifying matters like grounds for divorce, custody, parental relocation, and waiting times for a divorce, these changes affect everyone pursuing a divorce or dissolution of marriage in the state of Illinois. But, with same-sex marriage so new, many couples are uncertain as to whether or not those same changes will apply to same-sex divorce, or to what extent.
Same-Sex Marriages in Illinois
On June 1, 2014, same-sex marriage became legal throughout the state of Illinois, but same-sex couples throughout the United States still struggled with obtaining a marriage license. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all marriages were legal, regardless of gender or sexual orientation and states were no longer permitted to prevent same-sex couples from obtaining their licenses. Unfortunately, there have been some lags in the justice system regarding divorce and child custody for same-sex couples.
Divorce for Same-Sex Couples
Although generally not covered in discussions regarding same-sex marriage, divorce laws apply universally. There have been exceptions, with some same-sex couples being denied the right to divorce, cases like this are just as unconstitutional as the banning of same-sex marriage. As such, any same-sex couple seeking divorce should know their rights under Illinois state law and may benefit from legal representation to ensure their rights are protected.
Child Custody Laws and Same-Sex Marriages
While there are still some custody and guardianship obstacles for same-sex couples, those that reside in the state of Illinois are able to petition jointly for custody during adoptions, and they may petition for stepparent or secondary parental rights in other situations. This means that, in a large percentage of same-sex divorces, custody arrangements will mirror those seen in heterosexual divorces. It is important to note, however, that Senate Bill 57 did make some significant changes to these provisions.
Custody is no longer referred to as “sole” or “joint.” Instead, parents are allotted “parenting time and responsibilities” based on the best interest of the child. Child support, parental relocation, and other provisions regarding custody have also undergone some changes. For example, parents may now relocate out of state, as long as the other parent has been notified, remains uncontested, and the moving distance does not exceed the allowed distance.
Get Help with Your Divorce
Again, all couples – regardless of gender or sexual orientation – have the same rights under the IMDMA. However, same-sex couples do still have some unique challenges due to the newness of same-sex marriage laws. Ensure your rights are protected and receive sound legal counsel for your divorce by contacting the skilled and experienced DuPage County family law attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC for a free initial consultation. Call 630-932-9100 today.
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