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The Best of 2017 & Happy 2018…Illinois Family Law Edition

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I’m penning this on the eve of some Christmas travel up to Michigan’s beautiful upper peninsula followed by a New Year’s jaunt to Nashville, Tennessee for Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever event. It’s such a hopeful and fun time of year celebrating Jesus’ birth, enjoying a little R & R with family, and getting ‘teed up’ in order to make 2018 OUR Best Year Ever!

But first, a look back at 2017 & a look forward to 2018…

2017

Clearly the new child support law was the biggest ‘new’ thing going in Illinois family law 2017 and less than 6-months into it there’s still a lot to learn. 3 big differences that we have seen under the new formula versus the previous formula:

  1. ¬†Majority time parents with significant incomes are getting WAY LOWER child support awards. The reality is that if you’re a high-income earner now that both parents’ incomes are part of the formula, your high income works against you in the child support calculation. Here’s a video we did on this exact subject.
  2. Multi-Family adjustment. People supporting multiple children with multiple partners can deduct support for the oldest child when calculating support for younger children, even if it’s NOT court ordered. This deduction was previously allowed ONLY when the support was court-ordered.
  3. More Certainty + Higher Support Awards in Equal Parenting Time Situations. Prior to the advent of this current child support law we saw a lot of 50/50 parenting set-ups where zero child support was paid…not anymore. Now there’s a specific formula to be applied when each parent has 146 overnights or more.

2018

From my reading of what’s coming down the pipe, these are what I see as the most significant changes coming to Illinois law for 2018:

  • Maintenance, Spousal Support modified. Since 2015 we’ve had a maintenance formula whereby parties with combined incomes of $250,000 or less calculate maintenance as follows:¬† 30% of payor’s gross income – 20% of recipient’s gross income for amount. This formula will now apply to parties with combined incomes of up to $500,000 (not certain if this applies to active cases currently pending). The duration of maintenance awards gets smoothed out a bit whereby the duration will vary for every year of marriage versus current law which had 5-year blocks that led to drastically different results based on which side of the 5/10/15/20 year increment thelength of marriage fell. Lastly, Court can now use any ‘temporary maintenance’ paid during a pending proceeding to offset the final, duration set forth in the ultimate Judgment that hopefully will assist in disincentivizing delay caused only by a desire to keep the temporary maintenance runnin’.
  • Name-changing Made Easier. All divorce judgments now MUST include verbiage authorizing the person to resume the use of their former name should they choose so, and at any time. This was surely our default in drafting Judgments, especially when we represented women.
  • Allocation of Animals. Parties must execute a written agreement regarding the allocation of the animal by providing for sole or joint ownership of, or responsibility for, the companion animal.¬†Additionally, either party may petition for temporary allocation of, or sole or joint possession of and responsibility for, a companion animal that is jointly owned by the parties. If the court finds that the animal is a martial asset, the court will allocate the sole or joint ownership of and responsibility for the animal to the respective parties. The court will take into consideration the well-being of the companion animal while makings its decision in these circumstances.

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