Thanks to Bill Scott, Mirabella and Kincaid, P.C., DuPage family law practitioners are in-the-know regarding legislative changes affecting family cases. This legislation includes changes to child support payments and enforcement, the State Disbursement Unit, Children’s Educational Expenses, and other pertinent areas of family law. Below are summaries of these legislative changes, as reported by the ISBA through its website located at http://www.usba.org/Legislative/famly.html and as distributed by Bill Scott at a recent DCBA Family Law Committee meeting.
HB 377-Guardian ad Litem Changes
Generally, the bill provides authority to the court to appoint either, (1) an attorney to represent the child, (2) a guardian ad litem for the child, or (3) a child’s representative who will have the same power and authority to take part in the divorce or parentage litigation proceedings as does an attorney for a party. The bill provides for the appointment of more than one attorney for a child and for the payment of fees and costs for the appointed individuals. P.A. 91-410; effective 1-1-2000.
HB 421-Child Support Percentage
House Bill 421 (Winkel, R-Champaign; Hawkinson, R-Galesburg) allows trial courts to use a percentage of income in addition to a set dollar amount as a floor in child support orders.
HB 1370-Surrogate Parents on Birth Certificates
Amends the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 to allow the establishment of a child and parent relationship between a child and his or her biological parents who have had a child using a surrogate mother if all parties and spouses of parties involved sign certified statements consenting to establishing the parentage, and a physician certifies that the child is the biological child of the donor parents. Amends the Vital Records Act to provide that in cases in which parentage has been established in the name of the biological parents of a child who was delivered by a surrogate mother, the names of the biological parents shall be on the child’s birth certificate. Allows the sperm donor/egg donor parents to have their names on the birth certification in gestational surrogacy cases. P.A. 91-308; effective 7-29-99.
HB 1774-Child Support Enforcement
Amends sec. 5/505 to allow notice of proceedings to hold the respondent in contempt for failure to pay support "by personal service or by regular mail addressed to the respondent’s last known address." The respondent’s last known address may be determined from records of the clerk of the court, from the Federal Case Registry of Child Support Orders, or by any other reasonable means. It also changes the notice for attachment. In sec. 5/713 concerning attachment of the body of an obligor in a proceeding to enforce an order for support, it provides that notice must be served on the obligor by personal service or regular mail. Current law allows service by personal service or by certified mail with delivery restricted to the obligor. P.A. 91-113; effective 7-15-99.
HB 1845-Grandparents’ Visitation
Changes the law affecting visitation for grandparents and siblings by making two changes. First, it allows a court to modify an order affecting visitation by a grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling of a minor if a change of circumstances has occurred based on facts occurring subsequent to the judgment, and the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the modification is in the best interest of the minor child. Second, if an order for cause has been entered limiting visitation by one of these parties, that order may be modified only upon a showing of a substantial change in the circumstances occurring subsequent to the entry of the order with proof by clear and convincing evidence that modification is in the best interest of the minor child. P.A. 91-610; effective 8-19-99.
HB 2726-Standby Adoptions
Extends the principle of standby guardianship to adoptions. Standby adoption means an adoption in which a terminally ill parent consents to custody and termination of parental rights to become effective upon the occurrence of a future event. The future event may be either the death of the terminally ill parent or at the request of the parent for the entry of a final judgment of adoption. P.A. 91-572; effective 1-1-2000.
HB 2727-Post-Death Adoptions
Adoptions can be completed after the adopting parent dies. It is meant to be a corollary to current law that allows for adoption of a child who dies while case is pending. P.A. 91-573; effective 1-1-2000.
SB 19-Jail for Non-Support
Imposes a graduated scale of criminal penalties and for the revocation or suspension of driver’s licenses and professional licenses for failure to pay child support or maintenance. It will become a Class A misdemeanor for a (1) willful refusal without a lawful excuse to support a spouse or minor child, and (2) wilful failure to comply with a court or administrative support order if the arrearage is greater than $5, 000 or payment was delayed more than six months. It becomes a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent offense. If an obligor is more than 90 days behind in child support payments, the court may seek to suspend or revoke the obligor’s driver’s license or professional licenses. Will appear at 750 ILCS 16/. P.A. 91-613; effective 10-1-99 and 7-1-2000.
SB 289-Guardians Pursuing Dissolutions
Reverses In re Marriage of Burgess, 707 N.E. 2d 125, 302 Ill.App.3d 807 (1st D 1998) that bars guardians from maintaining divorce actions. The Supreme Court of Illinois has granted a petition for leave to appeal in the fall of 1999 in Burgess. Senate Bill 289 allows the guardian of the person and the estate to continue with a dissolution action if it was filed before the ward was adjudicated a disabled person. P.A. 91-139; effective 1-1-2000.
SB 469-Mandatory Interest on Support Arrearages
Imposes interest at nine percent on a support obligation or any portion of a support obligation, which become due and remains unpaid for 30 days. P.A. 91-397; effective 1-1-2000.
SB 576-Children’s Education Expenses
Provides that the authority under Illinois law for educational expenses terminates when the child receives a baccalaureate degree, except if the child is mentally or physically disables and not otherwise emancipated. It also adds the child’s academic performance to the list of factors the court must consider in assessing this expense. P.A. 91-204; effective 1-1-2000.
SB 1063-Child Support State Disbursement Unit
Creates the State Disbursement Unit in accordance with Title IV-D of the Social security Act which, beginning October 1, 1999, will collect and disburse all support payments made under court and administrative support orders in all cases in which support is paid under the Income Withholding for Support Act. P.A. 91-212; effective 7-20-99.
SB 1130-Associate Marriage and Family Therapists
Creates the profession of associate marriage and family therapists to be regulated by the State. Associates may not practice independently and must be clinically supervised by a licensed marriage and family therapist or equivalent as defined by rule. P.A. 91-362; effective 1-1-2000.
PA 91-677-Child Support and State Disbursement Unit (SDU)
Took effect Jan. 5, 2000, makes several changes in child support procedures and the SDU, which are as follows. (1) Requires that all income-withholding payments in non-IV-D cases be sent to the SDU regardless of when the order for support was entered. (Current law requires that they are sent to SDU only if the order was entered on or after Jan. 1, 1994.) (2) Requires that non-income-withholding payments in non-IV-D cases be made as directed in the order of support. (3) Excludes from the SDU process spousal maintenance payments if there is no child support obligation. (4) Directs SDU to return support payments to the sender if they should not have been sent to SDU. (5) Requires every employer who has 250 or more employees to use electronic funds transfer to pay all accounts withheld under Illinois’ Income Withholding Support Act after June 30. (6) Requires all other employers who withhold income for 10 or more separate cases to use electronic funds transfer by Jan. 1, 2001.
Possible Future Legislation
One bill presently being considered by the ISBA is that which would change Illinois’s way of computing child support payments. The legislation would do away with the present percentage guidelines and more to a blended process taken from Michigan and Florida statutes, which would consider the mother’s income, father’s income, and the child’s financial resources when assigning child support responsibility and dollar amount.
* Reported by ISBA at its website, http://www.isba.org/Legislative/family.html.
* Distributed at the DCBA Family Law Committee by Bill Scott, Esq., Mirabella and Kincaid, Wheaton.
* Recreated for printing in DuPage Bar Briefs by Judy L. Hogan, Esq., Judy L. Hogan, P.C., Wheaton.