There are few things more difficult for a family to go through than divorce. This is particularly true when there are children involved. Emotions run high, and everyone wants to leave the marriage in a manner that is fair to them, and the entire family can struggle to move on with their lives. In addition to all of this, parents must negotiate a child custody agreement and determine child support obligations. During this process, there are three very important things each parent must keep in mind.
1. Keep Your Emotions in Check
Spouses will normally experience strong feelings when going through a divorce, such as sadness, anger, disappointment and frustration. However, letting these emotions rule child custody negotiations typically results in a longer, more difficult process. Parents should do their best to try to avoid being confrontational during these proceedings, and remember at all times that negotiations are taking place in the best interests of the child, not the parents. In addition, remember that these negotiations can take time. Rather than rushing to reach an agreement as soon as possible, you should ensure that the final agreement protects your parental rights and meets your children’s needs.
2. Know the Laws
Child support is determined by a judge who will use the financial information the two spouses have submitted to make a decision. Due to this, both parents going through a divorce must provide accurate financial documents, and they should be sure to understand the laws surrounding child support....
Child support is a relevant issue in any divorce that involves children under the age of 18. Once a judge issues an order for child support, that order is legally binding. If child support is not paid, the courts may find the non-paying parent in contempt of court. There are times, however, when a parent has a problem paying their child support payments. In these instances, is it possible to modify a child support order? It is possible, but it is not always easy.
Determining Child Support Payments...
Separated or divorced parents have a lot on their plates in terms of providing the emotional and financial support a child needs to thrive. While a physical and emotional connection with parents is integral to a child’s development, a court cannot force a parent to have a genuine and meaningful relationship with his or her child. A judge can, however, compel a parent to pay child support, regardless of the quality of the parent/child relationship.
Child support is a right owed to the child, and a parent cannot shirk this responsibility as long as the law recognizes the person as the child’s legal parent. Further, the type of relationship the child’s parents have with one another, whether it be as husband and wife, live-in girlfriend/boyfriend, or former partners who were never married, has no bearing on the legal parent’s ongoing obligation to provide support until the child reaches the age of 18.
A common question connected with child support orders is how they are established, or more specifically, who may initiate an action for child support, and what is the process followed for establishing a legally enforceable obligation?...
Getting the financial support a child needs to do well is a priority for all parents who receive this money. Often, this parent is the child’s primary caregiver, meaning without child support from the other parent, they would be solely responsible for the high cost of raising the child. Being a single parent has enough burdens without the added stress of not receiving regular child support and finding oneself struggling to make ends meet. Unfortunately, the child is the one who is the most negatively affected by this situation because the non-payment of child support means the child must forego certain opportunities.
The state of Illinois has a vested interested in both parents supporting their children and offers a number of enforcement options to compel payment. A standard consequence of failing to pay child support is the suspension of the delinquent parent’s driver’s license. However, starting this year, the penalty for being caught driving on a suspended license related to unpaid child support was reduced to a petty crime. Petty crimes are purely fineable offenses, whereas misdemeanors, the former classification for license suspension related to child support, could include jail time. Thus, the delinquent parent has less incentive to become compliant because the consequences for not paying are now lower. Child support enforcement should still be pursued, but this new change is worth noting.
Child support orders, whether issued as part of divorce or paternity proceedings, are not something a parent can choose to ignore without facing consequences. The parent receiving support is entitled to seek enforcement with the courts to secure this right for the child. The primary way a parent can ask the court to enforce a child support order is to submit a petition for contempt. Violating a court order is not permissible, and a judge can order a delinquent parent to settle the arrears that includes interest after 30 days, or the parent may face jail time until some portion of the amount due is paid. Probation may also be ordered, and if jailed, but released to work, a parent may have his/her wages garnished to settle the overdue amount. In addition, if the parent owns a business, the court can order the seizure of these assets to put toward the back child support....
One of the primary challenges of being a single parent is finding the money to provide for all of a child’s needs. Divorce and separation can drastically change the financial means of the child’s primary caregiver, and the law expects that both parents will contribute to the financial support of the child until adulthood.
In the abstract, this ongoing obligation seems logically appropriate and fairly easy to arrange, assuming both parents can cooperate. In practice, however, parents may need to fight to establish and enforce child support, and they can face significant obstacles when child support orders are ignored by the other parent.
A recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times noted that there are millions of dollars in overdue child support owed to children living in Illinois. Unfortunately, the child is the person who most suffers when financial support is withheld, as well as the one who will most feel the burden of having less than what he or she really needs. The most effective and fastest route to receiving regular child support is to work with an experienced family law attorney who has the means and knowledge to ask the courts to take action designed to ensure compliance....