Thursday, February 4, 2016
From Daily North Shore:
We’ve heard a thousand times that patience is a virtue, and the Bible tells me that Love is patient. The Fins wrote that “God did not create hurry;” the French, “Patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet.” And the Italians gave us, “The salt of patience seasons everything.”
Local attorney Jennifer Cunningham Beeler says patience is the most important thing a divorcing couple can bring to the courthouse these days. Illinois divorce laws changed significantly Jan. 1, adding a new layer of stress to that most stressful negotiation.
“It’s the first big change in the laws since 1973,” Beeler told me. “Attorneys and judges are having to relearn things we have long been comfortable practicing. But the 2016 laws recognize that old old-fashioned view of family is changing, and now we have two moms and two dads and step-siblings and others.”
Beeler knows of which she speaks. Beyond her litigation experience in Lake and Cook counties, she earned a certificate from DePaul University’s Center for Dispute Resolution in family and divorce mediation, is a court-approved financial mediator in Cook County, and is a financial and custodial mediator in Lake County. She also serves as a child representative and guardianad litem for custodial cases.
As she explained how the law has changed, I consider how family life, too, has changed since 1973. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported a marriage rate of 10.7 per 1,000 residents in 1973, and a divorce and annulment rate of 4. That year, Illinois posted 44,671 divorces and 481 annulments. Mobile phones weren’t commonly available to ease communication among family members, and microwave ovens were too expensive to expedite dinner for most households. Adults held traditional jobs with traditional hours, not voicemail and email and Skype to extend the work day far past 5 p.m.
In 2011, the number of marriages exceeded 73,000 and the divorces exceeded 33,000. Still, the rates in each category were lessened by half. But these figures barely hint at how families have changed in those 38 years. It’s exciting to hear that the law is catching up.
And so Beeler explained: gone with these most recent changes in the local divorce laws is the notion of sole and joint custody, in favor of an “allocation of parental responsibilities”. And the concept of visitation is now considered an “allocation of parenting time”.
Read more here.