Modification of Child

Two new public acts were signed into law in Illinois recently. The first relates to when and how child support can be modified in Illinois. Recently, there have been several cases where courts considered various “foreseeable” circumstances as a basis to deny the modification of child support. In particular, one case determined that where the wife was unemployed at the time of the divorce, but ordered to seek employment, child support could not be modified when she obtained employment. This was contrary to the expectations of most practitioners. Although it is well-known that particular foreseen and planned for events in a judgment will prevent the judgment from being modified on that basis, such a broad interpretation was contrary to practice.

The legislature passed Public Act 102-823, which fixes the statute to overturn the court’s holding in the above case and similar cases. Now, child support or alimony can be modified upon a substantial change in circumstances, even if an event that would be the change in circumstances was foreseen or foreseeable, unless the divorce judgment or divorce agreement specifies the future event.

This may seem insignificant, but can be more significant. Recently, in several cases, attorneys have been attempting to utilize the case law that was recently decided about foreseeable events to try to prevent the modification of child support based on the emancipation of a child (child turning 18). Actually, with the way the court addressed future events in those cases, the argument had significant merit. It was non-sensical from a practical standpoint, but was the extension of the decisions by the appellate court. This legislation fixes this.

The new Public Act also modifies the law to allow a court to order a child support obligor to provide reasonably affordable life insurance on one or both parties as the court deems fair or the parties agree. While there was already a provision regarding life insurance, the statute will now specify that it can apply to both parties and that the life insurance should be reasonably affordable