1.  Date of dissolution of marriage is the proper date of valuation in bifurcated proceedings.  The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Court’s decision regarding the proper date for valuation of assets in bifurcated proceedings.  The Appellate Court held that the appropriate date was the date as close as practicable to the date of trial on the property division.  However, the Supreme Court disagreed and upheld the long-standing precedent that the proper date of valuation is the date of dissolution of marriage.  In this particular case, the petition for dissolution of marriage was filed in 2000, an order entitled “Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage” was entered in 2004, and thereafter in 2011, the circuit court entered the written order certifying the question regarding the appropriate valuation date.  In its ruling, the Supreme Court relied on the rationale that marital property rights cannot inure in property acquired after a dissolution of marriage. Allowing a date of valuation after the dissolution and near a trial on the property division leads to each party alternatively hoping for an increase or decrease in the valuation of the assets by the time of trial.  The Court also noted that in this particular case the extreme length in delay after the judgment was entered was due to the fact that the parties had to keep updating discovery and argued over certain projected increases and decreases in the estate.  In re the Marriage of Mathis, 2012 IL 113496.  http://www.state.il.us/court/Opinions/SupremeCourt/2012/113496.pdf

2.  Bifurcation is appropriate when marital issues negatively affect the children.  The trial court’s decision to bifurcate judgment because of the negative effect the marital issues were having on the children was not an abuse of discretion.  At the hearing on the grounds for dissolution of marriage, the wife testified to each of the necessary grounds for entry of judgment pursuant to irreconcilable differences.  Husband neither impeached wife or offered any contradictory evidence.  Wife also testified concerning a specific instance where the minor children saw the husband force her head to the bathroom floor.  In its decision, the Court relied on In re the Marriage of Wade, 408 Ill.App.3d 775 (1st Dist. 2011) which held that bifurcation could be necessary to protect and promote the emotional and mental well-being of the parties’ children.  In re the Marriage of Tomlins, 2013 IL App (3rd) 120099.  http://www.state.il.us/court/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2013/3rdDistrict/3120099.pdf

3.  The Appellate Court does not have jurisdiction to rule on an order adjudicating fewer than all the claims presented and which does not state that there is no just reason for delaying an appeal.  In a contested Parentage action, mother filed a Petition to Establish Paternity and a Petition for Support.  Father filed a Petition for the Return of the Minor Child to Illinois, a Petition for Custody, and for the abatement of child support until adjudication of the litigation.  The trial court denied father’s request for the return of the child and entered a temporary support order.  Father then filed an interlocutory appeal from an order which said, “The provisions of this order regarding custody is appealable.”  There was no reference to Supreme Court Rule 304(a) in the order, nor was there language tracking Rule 304(a), such as “there is no just reason for delaying appeal.”  The order also did not mention any resolution to the petition regarding the return of the child to Illinois. Therefore, Rule 304(a) was inapplicable and the Appellate Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the Appeal.  DCFS v. Cortez, 2012 IL App (2d) 120502.

4.  Uniform Collaborative Law Act.  The House has introduced a bill creating the Uniform Collaborative Law Act for family law cases.  The Act contains provisions regarding the requirements of collaborative law agreements, parameters regarding the process, disclosure of information, confidentiality, privileges and the authority of a tribunal if a collaborative agreement does not meet the requirements of the Act, among other provisions. A full copy of the Bill can be found here: House Bill 1029