On May 22, 2022 changes were made to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act impacting modification and termination of maintenance, child support, educational expenses for children, and disposition of property. Historically, a modification of child support can occur by a showing of a substantial change in circumstances, such as losing or changing employment, emancipation of a minor child, and increases or decreases in income. It is now clearly indicated in the statute that any contemplation of a change or foreseeability of a future event cannot be considered as a factor in the threshold of showing a substantial change in circumstances. In fact, unless the future event is specified in a court order one way or the other a future event cannot be contemplated.
In regards to maintenance, which is also commonly known as alimony or spousal support, the same new rules apply. Maintenance can only be modified or terminated upon showing a substantial change in circumstances. In the cases pertaining to maintenance, or spousal support, a substantial change in circumstance is typically considered with a termination of employment, change in employment status, promotion or demotion, retirement, and other factors often contemplated in settlement agreements pertaining to changes such as co-habitation, among other factors.
The bottom line is that the substantial change in circumstance threshold must be happening at the time or prior to the court filing (unless there is a court order permitting or barring future events). Unfortunately, parties do not always realize that their obligations for child support and maintenance do not necessarily automatically adjust, terminate, or modify without court intervention. That is why consulting with an experienced Chicago family law attorney is imperative at all stages of a case, even after it is concluded, so long as obligations and court orders are in effect.
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