As a new year comes, so do the effective dates of many new statutes that Illinois has passed in 2017. Several of these laws involve family law matters.
The first and most talked about change is the authority for courts to determine “pet custody” in divorce cases. We have previously done a separate article on this specific issue, but to recap, the new law provides that the court can specifically decide whether one of the parties to a divorce should be awarded sole custody of a pet or whether the parties should be awarded shared custody. Previously, courts treated pets as any other marital asset such as a car, home or a lamp. With this new law, the court has the authority to award custody of the pets to one or both parties and to treat pets more like children than property.
Cell Phones for Domestic Abuse Victims
Another important change in the law applies in favor of victims of domestic violence,. Public Act 100-0388 allows a court, in an order of protection matter, upon request of the petitioner, to order a wireless telephone provider to transfer the petitioner’s right to continue the use of his/her telephone number(s) and any financial responsibilities associated with those numbers to the petitioner. The purpose of this new law is to prohibit a respondent/abuser from using the petitioner’s cell phone number as a means for further abuse that might discourage a petitioner from seeking protection out of the fear of losing a cell phone number or service. A petitioner’s right to transfer a cell phone number includes the numbers of any minor children in his/her custody.
If a petitioner seeks this remedy, the petitioner assumes all financial responsibility for the telephone number, including the monthly service cost and costs associated with any mobile device associated with the number to be transferred. Additionally, the wireless service provider may require the petitioner to fulfill the other routine and customary requirements for establishing an account for transferring numbers, such as proof of identification, financial information and customer preferences.
Maintenance Law Changes
A third significant change in the family law realm is in regard to the maintenance statute. While there are no dramatic changes, there are some notable changes. As of January 1, 2018, the maximum gross income of the parties for application of the maintenance guidelines increased from $250,000 to $500,000 per year. This doubles the threshold at which deviations from the general guidelines may apply.
Additionally, the duration of the maintenance awards has changed slightly. Previously, the duration of maintenance was determined by 5-year increments of marriage. The change will fine tune the maintenance duration based on the duration of the marriage in yearly increments after the initial 5-year period. This change may motivate more consideration of the timing for filing a divorce when maintenance will be an issue. Since the duration of the maintenance award is determined from the date of marriage to the date the Petition for Dissolution is filed, a potential payer of maintenance may want to file for divorce prior to the next anniversary date to gain slightly shorter maintenance duration. On the other hand, a person who is expecting to receive maintenance may want to wait until after the next anniversary date to have a slightly longer duration of maintenance. For marriages of 20 or more years’ duration, the maintenance award will either be a period of time in an equal length of the marriage or an indefinite term as the court is to determine.
A final change regarding maintenance is that any temporary maintenance paid while a divorce is pending may result in a corresponding credit to the duration of the maintenance to be paid upon finalization of the maintenance. For example, if temporary maintenance is paid for 6 months during the divorce proceedings, those 6 months would be removed from the duration of the maintenance after entry of the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.
When seeking legal counsel for a divorce or family law matter, it is important to have attorneys that are knowledgeable and current on statutory and case law changes. At Drendel & Jansons Law Group, we keep up with current law changes and seek to understand how these changes may affect our client’s cases, even before the new laws go into effect. Please call us to set up a meeting to discuss your matter and receive a personalized consult if you would like insight into your matter in order to provide you the peace of mind necessary to make the decisions that will impact your life.
Roman J. Seckel
Drendel & Jansons Law Group
111 Flinn Street
Batavia, IL 60510
(630) 406-6179 fax
Roman focuses his practice on Family Law and complementary areas.
For more articles on family law topics, see the Drendel & Jansons Family Law Blog.
For family law resources, see the Drendel & Jansons Family Law Resource Page.