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....
Divorced parents rightly assume that their obligation to pay child support ends when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school. Financially supporting a child until he/she is legally able to engage in full time employment makes sense from a practical and legal perspective; however, many children go on to attend college and obtain a degree, causing them to incur the sky-high cost of a college education in America.
Unless a child receives a full scholarship that covers tuition, room, board, books and other expenses, the financial assistance of their parents is often necessary to help pay for their college education. Paying for college is a struggle for many parents, and divorced parents face the added pressure of juggling this cost while maintaining separate households.
While educational expenses for primary-level instruction are included in child support formulas, college expenses are not. If a parent wants to ensure that the other party helps cover the costs of a child’s college education, they will need to file a petition requesting contribution toward college expenses....
Child support is important for parents’ and children’s financial stability, but sometimes, the payor parent fails to make payments. In Illinois, the custodial parent has several enforcement options. The parent may garnish the nonpaying parent’s wages, seek contempt charges in court or seek driver’s license suspension. Parents also have other options for enforcement through the courts or by reporting the nonpayment to Child Support Services.
Since a child support order is a Court Order, unpaid child support judgments may be enforced by the same methods as any other judgment. The Court may place a lien on the delinquent parent’s bank accounts; real estate; cars; lawsuit settlements, including workers’ compensation claims or other assets. If the parent does not pay the child support amount, the sheriff may seize the parent’s property, sell it and pay the custodial parent out of the proceeds....
Every child in Illinois has the legal right to receive financial support from both parents. This responsibility does not end simply because parents divorce or separate. The payment of child support can be extremely important for a child's or parent's financial stability, but sometimes, the payor parent fails to make payments. In Illinois, the custodial parent has several enforcement options.
If a parent wants to enforce a child support order without going to court, he or she may send a Notice to Withhold Income for Support both to the parent and to the parent’s employer. The parent’s wages will be garnished, and the child support will be paid directly out of the parent’s paycheck. Sometimes, however, the parents have previously agreed not to pursue income withholding, and this option is not available. Fortunately, several other enforcement methods are possible in Illinois....
Child support determinations can be filled with tension, and the amount of support is often hotly contested. Child support calculations in Illinois are based on each parent’s earnings, and sometimes, one parent tries to evade responsibility for support payments by hiding income.
If the judge in a child support proceeding suspects that one parent is trying to avoid paying child support, Illinois law has a mechanism to ensure fairness — imputing income. When a Court imputes income, a parent is assigned a higher income for purposes of calculating child support. This action is appropriate when there is doubt as to the accuracy of the parent’s reported income and evidence shows that the parent is or could be earning more than reported....
In Illinois, Courts have discretion to include, as part of a child support order, a requirement that parents contribute toward post-secondary education expenses of their non-minor children. Historically, the guidelines for determining whether such support could be required were vague and confusing. The passage of the Family Law Reform Bill addresses these concerns by creating a new protocol for determining when non-minor support is appropriate.
The current version of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act allows a Court to order educational support for a child, including college or professional training expenses, as part of a custody agreement. Previously, Courts were only instructed to consider the following when making their determination:...
The divorce is finalized and child support, and custody orders are in place. Your ex has always been sporadic about making child support payments — some are on time, others are late. Yet the late payments are double what is required in order to make up for the missing payments. However, months have passed since you have received a check, and your ex will not return your calls.
What can be done to enforce payment, and what are the potential ramifications for your ex-spouse?
Illinois Child Support Enforcement...
The newest twist in the divorce of a Chicago hedge fund owner and his wife is her alleged request for $1 million a month in child support for their three children. To all but the most wealthy families (and even to most of them) $1 million per month seems excessive. But it raises the question, if child support is based on statutory guidelines, how can one parent request a certain amount of support, and what would it take for the Court to award it?
Children of Divorce Entitled to Same Lifestyle
Child support is based on a statutory formula that takes into consideration the net income of the obligor (the parent paying support) and the number of children to be supported. Once the Court determines the obligor’s net income, he/she must pay a percentage of his/her monthly net income based on the number of children he/she has. For example, an obligor with three children must pay 32 percent of the monthly net income....
Following a divorce, chances are high that either you or your spouse will re-marry. However, if you and your ex-spouse had children, and there is a child support order involved, is it possible for the custodial parent to obtain an increase in the original child support award based on the new spouse's income?
Calculation of Illinois Child Support Payment
The Court determines the value of a monthly child support an obligor (the parent ordered to pay child support) must pay based on a child support guidelines adopted by the Illinois legislature. Although there may be slight variations, a typical child support award is a percentage of an obligor’s net income, with the percentage being determined by the number of children he or she is financially obligated to support....
After months — or even years — of legal wrangling, your divorce is finalized and you and your ex-spouse are now free to move on with your lives. However, if either of you were ordered to pay alimony, or if there are children involved, there are tax issues related to the divorce to which you need to be aware. In fact, you may need to revisit these issues as circumstances change.
Common Tax Issues Faced by Couples Once a Divorce is Finalized
Filing status. Your marital status on December 31 determines your options regarding filing status for tax purposes. If your divorce is finalized before the end of the year, you may want to file as head of household rather than as a single person. You can file as head of household — and get a bigger standard deduction — if you had a dependent living with you for more than half the year and you paid more than half of the upkeep on the marital home. An attorney and accountant can advise you whether it is to your advantage to file as head of household or as an unmarried person....
When a couple decides to end their marriage, one or both spouses may file for divorce. However, in some cases, a marriage can end when one spouse simply walks out and leaves the other spouse wondering what went wrong and questioning his or her spouse's whereabouts. In this situation, the spouse who was left behind is placed in a difficult position. The commencement of all civil actions, including divorce, requires that the other party be served with the petition. Therefore, if one does not know where his or her spouse is, how can he or she serve the spouse with divorce papers? Although challenging, divorcing an absent spouse can be accomplished.Palatine Divorce by Publication If you do not know your spouse’s location, you can not simply file for divorce and state that you cannot find him or her. In order to get divorced in your spouse’s absence, you must prove to the Court that you performed due diligence in attempting to locate him or her. Hence, you must exhaust all options in trying to uncover his or her whereabouts. Due diligence in this situation may include:
- Attempting to contact your spouse at his or her last known address;
- Attempting to contact your spouse at his or her last known employer;
- Asking family members or close friends of his or her whereabouts;
- Performing an Internet search, including a search of social media sites; or
- Searching property records in your spouse's area of residence.
Parents are not the only members of the family that may initiate a separation. In fact, children may also take steps to become free from their parents. The process is called emancipation and, although rare, it can happen in Illinois. But what does it mean, and how does this affect issues like child support?
Illinois Emancipation Laws
Emancipation is the legal term that describes when a child becomes legally free of his parents. It happens either when the child reaches the legal age of majority, which in Illinois, is when the child turns 18 or when the Court issues an order of emancipation. Illinois will not consider a petition for emancipation until the child is 16, and the child may not file the petition on his own. Either his parents (assuming they consent) or a third-party must file on his behalf....
One of the sad realities of divorce is that each parent has less time to spend with their children. But in 2013, the Illinois legislature passed a law that would maximize the amount of time parents can spend with their children, regardless of the final division of child custody. The new law, which amended the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, went into effect on January 1, 2014, and allows the Court to grant parents a right of first refusal for child care in child custody and visitation agreements.
The Right of First Refusal in Child Custody Cases
A right of first refusal gives the non-custodial parent (the parent who is not currently caring for the child) the right to provide child care if the other parent needs a babysitter or other child care provider. For example, if the mother has primary custody but must put the children in daycare during the week while she works, she must first offer the father the opportunity to care for the children. If the father accepts, then he will be able to care for the children while the mother is at work, without the extra time being counted against his regularly scheduled visitation. If the father refuses, then the mother is free to put the children in daycare....
One of the fundamental questions decided during a divorce revolves around child support. In virtually all cases involving minor children, the parent with whom the children will primarily live - the custodial parent - is entitled to receive monetary assistance from the non-custodial parent to help with the needs of the children. In Illinois the laws established a formula for determining the measure of child support that is appropriate under different circumstances.
The Law in Illinois...
Lives change from day to day, month to month, and year to year. Often, what was good or beneficial at one point in life no longer holds the same significance later. Circumstances occasionally arise in which a divorce decree needs to be modified in order to better comport with current living situations.
An order for child support can be modified upon a showing of substantial change in circumstances. If there is no substantial change in circumstances, then the party receiving the benefits must demonstrate an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount as determined by the guidelines set forth in 750 ILCS 5, Section 505, unless that inconsistency is the result of a deviation from the guideline amount. This provision, however, only applies if a party is receiving child support enforcement services, and only if at least 36 months have elapsed since the order or last modification. There may also be a modification without showing a substantial change in circumstances, if a need can be shown to provide for the needs of the child’s health care through health insurance or other means....