When it comes to divorce, the adage: “for richer or for poorer” may determine how much alimony gets paid. Illinois recently revamped its family laws, including reforming alimony, and switched to the no-fault system.
In a Chicago divorce, the multimillionaire founder of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, are battling over whether the wife needs more than $400,000 a month for her living expenses.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, while the superrich duke it out over a standard of living most people will never experience, a shift in Illinois divorce law aims to reduce conflicts in dissolving marriages and establish better equity for former spouses with more modest incomes.
The policy changes are driven by attempts to correct past injustices that often left ex-wives with little money and no viable way to support themselves after years of raising children, divorce attorneys said. They mark the first major revamp of Illinois divorce law in almost 40 years.
The first comprehensive change in alimony law in Chicago took effect this year and reflect other cultural shifts. The biggest change is that the old grounds for divorce – like adultery, bigamy and cruelty – have largely been eliminated, moving Illinois to a no-fault divorce system.
The new law also eliminated the words “custody” and “visitation,” replacing them with “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” That means parents must propose and accept an agreement on who will have the kids when, and how the parents will jointly make decisions about their children’s education, religion, health and extracurricular activities.
In addition, for the first time, Illinois’ divorce laws have set a formula for determining alimony. Additionally, the duration of maintenance, which was left to the judge’s discretion before; now depends on the length of the marriage.
Wealthy spouses fighting over riches attract media attention, but it’s far more common for poor couples to wrestle with the increased expense of maintaining two households instead of one.
In Florida, I’ve written about past legislative efforts to modify our custody and alimony laws. Last year, Governor Scott vetoes a bill that would have modified custody and alimony.
The bill was emotionally divisive, but had broad support in the Legislature, passing the House by a comfortable 74-38 margin and the Senate by a 24-14 vote in March 2016.
The Chicago Tribune article is here.