Happy New Year 2017: Look Back/Forward
I’m really excited for 2017 to be Chicago Family Law Group’s Best Year Ever. Personally I’ve been working through Michael Hyatt’s rigorous goal-setting curriculum & some HUGE upgrades are being rolled out at CFLG literally this month of February. More details to come but to ‘tease it’ out a bit…adding multiple new legal staff AND total Website re-vamp set to hit by 2/15/17. So EXCITED to protect more families/marriages and IMPROVE OUR WORLD!
The Illinois Family Law Scene
Here’s what is strange to me about the Illinois political environment, on one hand there’s the perception/reality that our General Assembly is not accomplishing much and the state is in awful financial condition, HOWEVER, there have never been such significant changes in the family law space over my 15-years of lawyering as there have been over the last 2+ years.
6 RECENT PAST/FUTURE Law Changes Having MAJOR Impacts
- Income-Shares Child Support model. Effective 7/1/17 (and with major details still needing to be rolled out by lawmakers), we move from the % guidelines model that basically looked purely at the payor’s income to a model that considers BOTH parents’ incomes. The word on the street is that a payor’s support obligation is often lower under this model, however, the key issue likely will vary based on the payee’s income which is now a key component to a child support calculation. If you’ve been thinking about a child support reduction, shortly after 7/1/17 might be a good time to pull the trigger.
- Temporary Matters More Efficient. Parentage and divorce cases often take 6-months to 2-years to resolve-in-full and therefore we’re frequently filing for temporary (while the case is pending) maintenance/child support/attorney’s fees to protect clients over that 6-month/2-year period. Historically these ‘temporary matters’ included significant litigation. However, the new law that became effective 1/1/16 makes these matters easier/abbreviated based solely on the parties’ financial affidavits plus supporting documents (tax returns, paystubs).
- Spousal Support is FAR MORE Prevalent. The spousal support (maintenance) guidelines became effective 1/1/15 and maintenance is far easier to get for our clients now. Previously, maintenance amounts/duration were set wholly on a series of 10-12 factors that made maintenance VERY UNPREDICTABLE. Now assuming an income disparity between divorcing spouses judges are pretty much simply applying the guidelines (30% gross income – 20% gross income = maintenance amount). My observation is that the duration formula is a tad unfair with longer awards that aren’t appropriate.
- Student Loan deductions for child support. This wasn’t clear previously but as of 1/1/16 when we have young-ish parents if there are student loans BEING PAID that’s a deduction against ‘net income’ for purposes of the child support calculation…not a question any longer.
- Relocation Mileage Limits. So to review the big change here as of 1/1/16 became a majority-time parent’s ability to relocate with a child changed from being tied to moving to a different state to NOW having a 25/50 mile limit (depending on where you live in Illinois). In our experience over the last 12-13 months the new mileage limits have increased litigation. I thought this when the law was passed and it’s true….25/50 miles are too small of mileage limits.
- Cook County Domestic Relations Division Reorganization. Effective 2/6/17, a lot of shuffling is happening in the courtrooms that we frequent on a daily basis and hopefully I won’t get lost at the Daley Center with a ton of judge/courtroom changes…but that’s all just administrative and I’ll adjust. The BIG CHANGE that I believe will help our clients is that the 2 ‘parts’ of family law (divorce and parentage) will no longer will segregated. For my first 15-years of family lawyering, parentage cases (unmarried parents) were the ‘2nd class’ part of the universe with fewer courtrooms and judges. Now, all 43 (approximate current number of Cook County domestic relations judges) judges will be handing ‘combined’ dockets with divorce/post-divorce/parentage matters. I think this will upgrade the way in which parentage matters are handled.
Lets make 2017 YOUR Best Year Ever.
We can help with that HERE or @ 312-893-5888.