In addition to the comprehensive family-law overhaul embodied in SB 57, the General Assembly also passed and sent to the governor HB 1531, a rewrite of the Parentage Act of 1984. The new Parentage Act of 2015 brings Illinois law in line with cultural and family-dynamic changes over the last 30 year. In particular, the language of the current Act is not gender-neutral and may be unconstitutional now that Illinois recognizes same-sex marriage. As with SB 57, the governor has not yet acted on the bill.
According to Oak Brook family law attorney Margaret Bennett, the Parentage Act of 2015 is a "two parent" statute that extends equal rights and responsibilities to both parents, regardless of gender. It also guarantees the right of every child to the physical, mental, emotional, and financial support of his or her parents. Making the statute gender-neutral fulfils the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause of the Illinois Constitution, Bennett says.
The Act was drafted by a large committee, she says. It included the legislature-appointed Illinois Family Law Study Committee and representatives of the ISBA Family Law Section Council, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services ("DHFS"), and the Illinois Attorney General's Office. Bennett notes that the participation of DHFS was important because the new law must comply with federal mandates. Illinois receives funds from various federal programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Title IV-D, which help with establishing parentage, determining child support, and collecting and enforcing child support orders. Find out more in the July Illinois Bar Journal.