Changes to the Illinois spousal maintenance law will make name changing easier, revise the method of calculating the duration of spousal support payments and increase the number of couples to whom the guidelines apply. As of September 2017, HB 2537 transitioned into Public Act 100-0520, which entailed changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act (IMDMA) and the Code of Civil Procedure. The law will officially go into effect on June 1, 2018.
Making Name Changes Easier
The new act requires notice to be given to parents whose parental rights are still intact and to any individual who has been given parental responsibilities under the IMDMA when changing to a minor’s name. Amendments to the act also include the replacement of the term “custody” with “parental responsibility” in hopes of reducing acrimony between divorcing couples and make that language the standard for all of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS).
The IMDMA itself has also undergone changes regarding names. It now includes a subsection (c) that aims to make the name change process more efficient for divorcing parties. Instead of forcing divorcing spouses to file separate chancery actions for name changes and incurring higher court costs, judgments of dissolution will now contain a provision that authorizes individuals to continue using their former names if they elect to do so, at any time.
Language is also now gender-neutral, mentioning both maiden and “previous” names. The term “wife” has been replaced with “person,” accounting for same-sex couples and certain situations where the husband takes his spouse’s surname.
Ultimately, these changes are intended to make the dissolution process less complicated than it has been in the past.
Better Process for Calculating Maintenance
Another big change in the law applies to the method used to calculate spousal maintenance and the duration of payments. Instead of basing the calculation on five-year blocks of time, the method used to calculate the duration of maintenance will now take on a more logical approach. While the way maintenance is calculated for the first five years of marriage will not change, the duration modifier for each year after that will increase in increments.
The income threshold for couples to whom the statutory guidelines apply will also be raised from $250,000 to $500,000. The court is not required to adhere to the guidelines when couples’ combined incomes are above the threshold and may apply other factors to determine maintenance instead.