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Belleville and Edwardsville Divorce Law Blog

Parents have options for negotiating terms of child support

The terms for child support payments do not necessarily have to be determined after a contentious court battle. Private negotiations between the parents or more formal proceedings such as mediation might enable Illinois parents who are ending their marriae to focus on the financial needs of the family and reach an agreement.

Although private negotiations are informal in nature, each party may want to have an attorney present during discussions. Alternatively, a parent could take a draft of the terms to an attorney for legal review before making a final commitment.

Older siblings can obtain custody of younger one

73348926_S.jpgIn some cases where Illinois parents are not capable of taking care of their child, a sibling may attempt to get custody. However, this can sometimes be difficult as siblings are often close in age. As such, the sibling seeking custody will have to show the court that he or she is independent, stable and can financially support the child.

People can become a legal guardian to their younger sibling without having to go to court. For example, the parents can relinquish legal custody to a sibling at any time if they find that they are unable to properly care for the child. If the parents agree to relinquish custody, the process can be fairly simple and without a custody fight.

Are rings marital or separate property?

37275704_S.jpgIllinois residents know that a marriage usually begins with an engagement, and often, the engagement and subsequent wedding ceremony involve the exchange of rings. These rings might have financial and sentimental value for the parties, as they are a representation of the couple's love. However, they might become a source of additional conflict if the couple later decides to end their marriage. If you find yourself in this situation, you might be wondering who the rings belong to in the event of a divorce.

There is no set answer to this question. However, you might feel that you have made a bigger investment into the rings and that when property is being divided you have a real claim to them. In other cases, it might be the other party seeking them. In actuality simply claiming the investment will not necessarily result in getting the rings. The rings might be considered separate property instead of marital property, and this would affect who gets the rings, you or your ex-spouse.

Federal law alters division of military retirement in divorce

48679364_S.jpgMilitary personnel in Illinois involved in a divorce should be aware of new requirements for submitting court orders regarding the division of military retirement pay to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 authorized the changes, and failure to provide the required information to the accounting office will delay the distribution of benefits.

A court order regarding a divorce settlement that divides military retirement pay prior to the service member's retirement will calculate the amount according tocertain variables. The military member's disposable income will be based upon the member's basic pay and years of service at the time of the court order. Increases will be based on cost-of-living adjustments issued between the time of the divorce and eventual retirement date.

Nesting as a type of co-parenting

43214130_S.jpgIllinois parents who decide to divorce must determine how they will handle child custody. Historically, women have been granted physical custody of their children with the fathers having visitation on the weekends and during summer months. More recently, courts have been favoring shared custody arrangements in which the children spend nearly equal amounts of time with both parents.

Instead of making the children move back and forth between their homes, some parents are trying a new type of shared parenting called nesting. In this type of arrangement, the kids remain in the family home while the parents switch off spending their time in the home with the children. People who choose this type of arrangement do so to try to disrupt their children's lives as little as possible.

Why abuse victims may recant

39243756_S.jpgSome Illinois residents have been the victims of domestic violence. Unlike other types of assault, it takes place between two members of the same household. Therefore, such crimes can be more difficult to prosecute as family members or others who are close to each other don't want the aggressor to get in trouble. In some cases, victims will either stop cooperating with authorities or recant their previous statements.

People might recant their testimony at any time, but it generally happens early in the case. This is done in an effort to get charges against a defendant dropped. In many cases, a victim's statement is used as evidence against the person who allegedly committed the abuse. Victims may recant because they are afraid that their attacker will strike again if he or she is acquitted or the case is dropped.

Avoiding property division errors with retirement accounts

33227512_S.jpgIn-depth negotiations and a divorce agreement signed by an Illinois judge may not result in an equitable property division in all cases. According to an investment adviser, taxes and early withdrawal penalties can turn an equitable split into a lopsided arrangement. Improper treatment of retirement funds can also cause financial difficulties for divorcees down the road.

The Qualified Domestic Relations Order is a final statement on property division covering retirement assets. It is the legal order allowing quick access to retirement accounts for the purpose of fulfilling the divorce agreement. As such, the QDRO can allow for a lump payment to a divorcing spouse or other participant, complete disbursement to both parties or partial disbursement of funds.

Veterans' benefits, child support and alimony

39482433_S.jpgIn Illinois, if a couple divorces and one of them is a veteran, the veteran's benefits may be used toward child support or alimony even though normally VA benefits cannot be seized. This is known as "family support", and multiple states in a number of different cases have ruled that this is an appropriate exception. In child support cases, disability may be considered as income.

The reason this is possible is because of a 1987 Supreme Court case that found that Congress intended VA benefits to be used for the entire family and not simply for the veteran. However, in general, these benefits cannot be garnished to pay child support or alimony. The exception is if the veteran has opted to receive disability benefits instead of a pension. Congress put an exception in place after a 1981 case involving the ex-wife of a veteran who filed for garnishment of his disability payments as alimony.

Illinois changes child support law

13798961_S.jpgFollowing the lead of other states, Illinois is implementing major changes to the way child support gets calculated. The changes are meant to make the way the state calculates child support similar to those other states and to result in fair child support payments.

According to the new changes, in order to calculate child support, the incomes of both parents will be considered, as well as the amount of time each parent spends with their children. The changes also eliminate the use of hard percentages to determine how much one parent should pay the other, a formula the state has used for years. The changes might result in lower payment amounts, some lawyers warn, but these amounts should be fair. For parents who earn similar salaries, shared parenting time might be a particular significant variable that can affect the amount of payment.

How states collect and distribute child support

35010665_S.jpgIf Illinois divorced parents have a formal child support order, this support is administered through the state disbursement unit. In general, this unit receives support from the noncustodial parent and then distributes it to the custodial parent.

If a noncustodial parent is receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, in some states, the child support might be used to reimburse the state and federal government for the TANF payments. However, research supports passing through the child support to families because it has been shown to make child support payments more consistent. Families tend to be more financially stable and better able to move from welfare to work. Doing so also tends to makes the father less likely to participate in the underground economy.

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Stange Law Firm, PC
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Belleville, Illinois 62221

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