New Rules for Today's Families

Money and Gavel

When the “Modern Family” law takes effect this January, it will fundamentally reshape the way family law cases move through the system and are ultimately decided. In addition to the subjects covered in previous blogs, there are a few other significant changes.

Modification and Property Division

While the change to in-state and out-of-state modification is by far the most important alteration, there are a few others of note. For example, child support can be made permanent by agreement of the parties, meaning that it cannot be modified absent extraordinary circumstances.

As for property division, the new Section 503 expands the marital property presumption and a change in classification must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. A related provision changes the rules when dealing with commingled property. Finally, the new law explicitly states that the trial date is the property valuation date, which can significantly affect retirement account balances and other figures. If necessary, a judge has the power to appoint a financial expert and divide the expense between the parties.

Educational Expenses

The Legislature included an entirely new section on this issue, which was sorely needed, because current law is very uncertain.

Any award can be made payable to an academic institution, a child, or a party. The obligation terminates if the child's average drops below “C” or a similar ending event occurs. Furthermore, either party may bring a petition for children's' educational expenses through age 23, or age 25 in some circumstances. These expenses are defined as:

  • Tuition and Fees: This amount is capped at the cost of the University of Illinois in a given year; a party can also demand reimbursement for books and supplies;
  • Room and Board: Similarly, the amount is capped at the cost of a double-occupancy dorm room and standard meal plan at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne;
  • Medical Costs: The petition may demand the actual cost of both medical insurance and uninsured expenses; and
  • Living Expenses: This category includes all living expenses during recess periods, such as food, utilities, and transportation.

A future post will examine the new Section 602.7, which rewrites the way that divorced parents interact with their children.

It is safe to say that Senate Bill 57 is one of the most sweeping family law reform measures in the state's history. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Naperville family law attorney that understands all the implications of these changes, contact our office. Convenient payment plans are available.

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