Sep 1, 2016

IICLE Family Law Flash Points - September 2016

1.         IMDMA trailer bill to take effect January 1, 2017.  The “clean-up” bill to last year’s new Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act contains a number of clarifications such as:

  • It specifically states that the post-educational expenses (Section 513) provision capping costs at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana pertains to “in-state” tuition;
  • The 25-mile standard pertaining to relocation of a minor child is based on an internet mapping service;
  • The two-year bar to amending an Allocation Judgment pertains only to parental decision-making and not parenting time; and
  • Upon review of any previously ordered maintenance award, the court may extend the maintenance for further review, for a fixed period of time, indefinitely, or terminate it altogether.

2.         Parentage Act trailer bill to take effect January 1, 2017.  The “clean-up” bill to last year’s new Parentage Act also contains a number of clarifications such as:

It adds definitions of “assisted reproduction” “donor” and “intended parent”;

The challenge by a signatory to the VAP is only permitted upon a showing of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact and is barred after 2 years unless that period is tolled pursuant to the law.

It is presumed to be equitable and in the best interests of a minor child to grant a motion by the child (through a court-appointed attorney or Child Representative) seeking an order for genetic testing. The presumption may be overcome by clear and convincing evidence that extraordinary circumstances exist making the genetic testing contrary to the child's best interests.

3.         New income sharing child support statute to take effect July 1, 2017.  Illinois will be moving from a straight guideline child support state where child support is calculated based on a percentage of the payor’s net income into an “income shares” model effective July 1, 2017.  This overhaul of the child support statute includes revised definitions of gross income and net income and also includes an extensive definition of a new term: standardized tax amount, as well as a definition for business income which includes how such income will be calculated for purposes of setting child support.  The statute also provides guidance on each parent’s contribution to extracurricular, education, child care and health care expenses of a minor child above and beyond a child support payment. The statute references charts showing the child support presumed needed in particular cases using the combined incomes of both parents. The charts, which will be critical to arriving at any amount for child support, are not yet finalized but are anticipated to be completed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services by the statute’s effective date of July 1, 2017. The general concept of the statute is that whatever  amount is determined to be needed by the child, the parent with the higher percentage of the combined income is to pay the other parent the same percentage of the determined amount as is the percentage difference in the parents’ respective incomes.

4.         Illinois Supreme Court overturns Appellate Court and declares former domestic partner’s claim for restitution barred by statutory prohibition on common law marriage.  In the matter of Blumenthal v. Brewer, the Illinois Supreme Court has firmly upheld its prior case of Hewitt v. Hewitt, 77 Ill.2d 49 (1979) and ruled that the despite all of the recent and numerous changes to family-related statutes, the statutory provision against common-law marriage (750 ILCS 5/214) remains unchanged, and therefore, unmarried domestic partners cannot bring claims to enforce mutual property rights when those rights arise from a marriage-like relationship between the parties.  In this case, Blumenthal filed a claim of partition over a joint residence against Brewer when their relationship ended. As part of a counter-claim, Brewer sought a number of equitable remedies in an attempt to divide their total assets, including the imposition of a constructive trust over Blumenthal’s share of her annual net earnings of a medical group of which she was a physician.  Brewer’s argument was that during the course of their relationship, she (Brewer) had contributed funds to a joint account which subsequently went towards the purchase of Blumenthal’s interest in the medical practice.  In the alternative, she sought restitution for an undisclosed amount that she had deposited into the couple’s account since the year 2000.  Brewer’s four other counts in her counter-claim were deemed moot for purposes of the Supreme Court’s appeal.  However, on the issue of the constructive trust and restitution claim, the Court found that Brewer failed to make a showing that her claim had an independent economic basis apart from the parties’ relationship, and therefore her claim was barred by Hewitt.  Blumenthal v. Brewer, 2016 IL 118781.

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