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Belleville and Edwardsville Divorce Law Blog

Reducing conflict during school breaks

Illinois parents who have gone through a divorce may find that school vacations may lead to tense custody situations. However, there are ways in which both custodial and noncustodial parents can make school breaks as smooth as possible for themselves and their children. First, creating a plan well before the break takes place and putting it in writing may reduce the odds of a conflict.

Talking with the child's other parent is especially important if a trip with a son or daughter deviates with a current custody order or parenting plan. Having an agreement in writing may be beneficial for those who may find themselves in court for deviating from the order. Furthermore, the child's other parent should be given several written reminders prior to the trip. This may make it less likely that he or she can make plans with the child in an effort to interfere with the trip.

How domestic violence impacts custody cases

35157407_S.jpgWhen an Illinois parent is accused of domestic violence, it could impact a subsequent child custody case. As courts take domestic abuse seriously, they are more likely to err on the side of caution to reduce the odds of putting a child in harm's way. As with any other child custody case, the court must determine what is in the best interest of the child when making a decision.

Generally, it doesn't matter whether the abuse occurred recently or in the distant past. A judge will be mostly concerned with if the abuser poses a danger to the child or to the other parent who was the victim of the abuse. A judge will also have to consider whether the abuse had an impact on the child even if he or she wasn't the victim or wasn't meant to witness an incident of abuse.

The steps to winning a custody dispute

47522353_S.jpgIllinois parents who are seeking sole physical custody of their children need to be as prepared as possible when facing a judge. This is because that judge may rule in a manner that may be surprising to a parent who may believe that the facts give credence to a claim of sole custody. Parents should also consider whether or not to create a parenting agreement with their former spouse as opposed to going to court.

This may be better for the children while also resulting in a more predictable outcome for both parents. It is also important for parents to understand that sole or primary physical custody of a child does not necessarily shut the other parent out of the child's life. In most cases, the noncustodial parent will be granted visitation rights.

Stopping child support when a child becomes emancipated

43130335_S.jpgIllinois parents who are ordered to pay child support will be required to continue making payments until the child either reaches the age of majority or becomes emancipated. There are several reasons why children may become emancipated. For example, they may join the military, become financially independent from their custodial parent or they may get married before turning 18.

In the event that a child becomes emancipated before reaching the age of majority, the child support payments are not automatically terminated. The parent will have to go to court and request that the child support order be closed. In some cases, the parent should be prepared to show evidence that the child is indeed emancipated. If the parent does not do this, the other parent can request that the court enforce the child support order.

$800 million stopgap plan would help domestic violence victims

19508353_S.jpgWhen it comes to domestic violence, Illinois state funding to help victims can be sporadic but necessary to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the hostile environment they are trying to escape. Domestic violence situations can spiral out of control quickly, and many times the victims need to find a safe alternative place to stay.

Shelters designed for those trying to remove themselves from a domestic violence situation rely heavily on state funding for programs to serve their communities. The Sojourn Shelter in the state capital of Springfield has not received any financial backing from the state since legislators passed the stopgap budget in June 2016. However, this particular 24-hour, seven day-a-week shelter assisted more than 6,800 people last year who were targets of domestic violence.

More child support requested from Jose Reyes

18825743_S.jpgIllinois baseball fans might have heard that Mets player Jose Reyes is in a dispute about child support with a woman with whom he had an affair. The two have a 7-year-old daughter together.

Reyes currently pays $11,500 monthly in child support from his salary of $22 million per year. The woman asked for the amount to be quadrupled. Her attorney said that her only income came from a rental property Reyes had bought for her. According to some sources, Reyes had been paying her more in child support, but in 2015, after his wife learned of the affair, the amount went down.

How courts deal with disputes over religion involving kids

50573887_S.jpgEaster weekend is very important for some families, but its significance should not be diminished if one parent does not want to attend church or other religious services. Religion (or participation in religious ceremonies) can be a very difficult subject between divorcing and separated couples. Parents may feel very strongly about including (or not including) their children in religious events and may be quick to seek court intervention to get their way. This post will examine the difficulties courts may have in adjudicating these issues.

Questions about religious inclusion arise under the framework of legal custody. When a parent is awarded this form of custody, there are empowered to make decisions about important aspects of a child's life, including medical treatment, choice of school and religious upbringing, to name a few. When disputes arise about religion, a family court judge must balance a parent's First Amendment right to practice their religion against the child's best interests.  

Uses, misuses of child support payments

43131649_S.jpgWhen Illinois parents divorce, the non-custodial parent usually must pay child support to the custodial parent. This money must be used for maintenance of the child or children. It should not be used for personal expenses of the custodial parent.

For example, child support can be used to pay rent, the mortgage or utilities, since the child clearly benefits from having a safe place to live. The money also could be used to pay a child's school expenses, including supplies and school clothes, as well as for any extracurricular expenses for activities the child is involved in. Child support also may be used to pay medical expenses, including vision and dental care. Food and toys are also reasonable child care expenses.

The 20/20/20 rule for military divorces

50864636_S.jpgIllinois residents who are married to a member of the military and getting a divorce may wonder how their healthcare and other benefits will change. What happens after a divorce depends on the length of the marriage, how long a spouse has served in the military and the amount of time military service and marriage overlapped.

When figuring out whether benefits continue after a military divorce, the "20/20/20 rule" applies. This means that a marriage must have lasted for at least 20 years, a spouse must have served for at least 20 years and the marriage must overlap with the service for 20 years or more. Anyone who was married to a military service member for less than 20 years does not receive any benefits, and any current benefits end when the divorce is finalized.

When a noncustodial parent becomes disabled

Many Illinois parents have gone through a divorce and have been awarded primary physical custody of their young children. In most cases, the court has also awarded them child support, and these parents often rely on prompt and timely payments to meet the costs of raising their children. While noncustodial parents may make every effort to comply with their obligations, a question arises as to how to proceed if such a parent suddenly becomes disabled as result of an accident.

Generally speaking, a disability will not end the obligation to provide support. However, it can clearly impact the ability to do so, especially when it results in an inability to return to work for a prolonged period. If the disabled parent becomes entitled to receive benefits through an employer-provided insurance policy, then payments should continue to be made. However, the amount of benefits will in most cases be less than the salary the parent had previously been receiving. In such an event, it is likely that a court would approve a request to modify the amount as child support is based in part on the income of the noncustodial parent.

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