Guest Post by: Andrew G. Vaughn. Divorce Attorney/Founder of NuVorce LLC and Professor of Advanced Domestic Relations Law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

On January 1, 2016 a new set of divorce laws became effective in Illinois. These laws changed many of the core practices in divorce. In this three part guest blog post, we will discuss: (1) the fundamentals of divorce, (2) how this new law impacts your kids, and (3) how this new law impacts your wallet.

The Basics

Deciding to divorce can be difficult if children are involved. If you do decide to divorce, there will be two primary issues related to you kids that will need to be resolved: (1) who will have custody of the children and (2) what the visitation schedule will be. (Note: Child Support is also related to the Kids, but will be addressed in our next post – How Illinois’ New Divorce Law Impacts Your Wallet).


Under the old law, Custody meant decision making authority for major decisions for your kids. Major decisions are not what they’re wearing to school but bigger picture issues like: (1) Medical – who will their doctor be, (2) Education – where will they go to school, and (3) Religion – what religion, if any, will they be raised in. Under the new law, Custody still means decision making, they’ve just added a fourth major decision – (4) Extracurricular Activities.

While adding Extracurricular Activities is a smaller change, the next one is big. They have added an additional type of custody that can exist. Under the prior law, parents could have “Joint Custody” which meant that those major decisions were made by both parents together. Alternatively, one parent could be awarded “Sole Custody” which meant that major decisions were made by only one parent. Under the new law, there is still Joint Custody and Sole Custody, but they have also added a hybrid where the court can divide the decisions between the parents (For example: doctor parent makes medical decisions and teacher parent make educational decisions).


Under the old law, visitation with children was to be “reasonable.” Under the new law, the visitation is to be based on the “best interests of the children.” I recently asked a Judge what the difference was between the reasonable standard and the best interest standard. Her response: “I have no clue.”

Bottom Line

Under the new law there is a hybrid type of custody between Joint and Sole, extracurricular activities are now considered a major decision, and no one yet knows how visitation has been changed.
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