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Belleville and Edwardsville Divorce Law Blog

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.

How parents should navigate a child custody hearing

17758013_S.jpgThere are a number of mistakes that Illinois parents might make in a child custody hearing that could jeopardize their chances of getting custody. Displaying anger or bitterness toward the other parent could make a poor impression on a judge if it implies that the parent is unlikely to be cooperative. Friends and family members may also try to be helpful by suggesting that a parent ask for more support or time with the child, but parents should not allow themselves to be pressured. Furthermore, they should not change strategies without discussing it with their attorney first.

Parents should also avoid speaking for their child or implying that the child is better off with them. As with the other errors, this could end up having the opposite of its intended effect. If an older child wishes to speak in court, this is usually permitted.

Drug or alcohol abuse may put children in danger

33470856_S.jpgThe best interests of a child are always paramount in an Illinois custody proceeding. Therefore, parents who believe that the child's other parent has issues with substance abuse may wish to raise those concerns as soon as possible. Parents may choose to either report their concerns either directly to the court handling the case or to the Department of Children and Family Services.

If a child custody order already exists, a judge may choose to modify the order while the allegation can be investigated or after it has been verified. This may mean that noncustodial parents are subject to supervised visitation in a controlled setting assuming that it is in the best interests of the child. Supervised visitation may continue until it can be established that there has been a significant change in circumstances.

A child's role in a custody battle

31278169_S.jpgWhen Illinois parents with young children end their marriage, one of them is often given primary physical custody with the other having certain visitation rights. However, a child may or may not have a say as to where he or she will live once the divorce is finalized. The top priority in any child custody case is to protect the best interests of the child. This generally trumps the wishes of the parties involved.

A court will also have to consider whether or not children are old enough or mature enough to make that decision on their own. In some cases, the preference of the child will be taken into consideration if he or she is deemed mature enough to make an educated decision. However, judges will still need to take into account that some children choose to live with a parent based on how lenient that parent may be.

Limiting a child's contact with the noncustodial parent

As technology continues to advance, Illinois parents who do not have primary custody have more ways to keep in contact with their children, such as text messages, Skype and FaceTime. While the custodial parent may not want the noncustodial parent to have contact with the child outside of the allotted visitation time, courts will rarely block the noncustodial parent from using this technology to have contact with the children.

One reason a custodial parent may wish to block the other parent from having constant contact is because of just how messy the divorce might have become. However, while the custodial parent may no longer like the other parent, blocking the noncustodial parent from being involved in the children's daily lives can actually be harmful.

Reducing conflict during school breaks

60537646_S.jpgIllinois 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.

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Stange Law Firm, PC

Stange Law Firm, PC
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Belleville, Illinois 62221

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