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Posted on in Divorce

Hoffman Estates divorce lawyer child custody alimonyUnder Illinois law, gender is not a factor that should be considered when deciding a divorce case; however, some may fear that the decisions made during divorce will favor their ex-spouse, and they will want to understand their rights and the best ways to achieve success during the divorce process. Below are some of the biggest myths that still surround men and divorce and the truth behind them:

When Men Do Not Pay Child Support, They Cannot See Their Child

Fathers may worry that if they fall behind on child support payments, the mother may be able to refuse to allow them to spend time with their child. Fortunately, this is not the case. There are serious consequences for not paying child support, including being held in contempt of court. However, the courts view child custody and child support as two separate issues, and a mother cannot punish a father for non-payment of child support by restricting parenting time. If a parent withholds visitation because their ex-spouse did not pay child support, she/he can face serious consequences themselves.

Mothers Are Always Awarded Primary Child Custody

This is perhaps the biggest myth surrounding men and divorce. Although it is true that at one time, the courts were more likely to award child custody to mothers, this is no longer the case. Today, decisions about child custody are based on what is in the child’s best interests. The gender of the two spouses has nothing to do with child custody hearings. Instead, courts will consider factors such as the health of the parents, the children’s wishes, and how parents acted in the past when providing care for their children.

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Mt. Prospect child support attorneyAll parents in Illinois are responsible for providing financial support for their children. This is a fairly straightforward matter during a marriage, but after divorce, it can become more complicated. In many cases, the non-custodial parent is responsible for paying child support to the custodial parent, and these payments are meant to help with daily expenses and costs associated with raising the child. Sometimes, a non-custodial parent may find him or herself in financial trouble, or he or she may want to punish the other parent by refusing to pay support. However, a non-custodial parent can face severe consequences for not paying court-ordered child support. Custodial parents should be sure to understand their options for enforcing payment of child support that is owed. 

In some cases, a parent may work with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to enforce payment of child support. A parent may also work with a family law attorney to take legal action through the court. The consequences a non-paying parent may face include:

Wage Garnishment

If a parent does not pay child support, his or her wages may be garnished to ensure that payments are made on time and in full. An Income Withholding for Support request will be sent to the parent’s employer. This notice will include instructions regarding the amount the employer should withhold from the parent’s paychecks and where to send that money. A wage garnishment order can ensure that ongoing child support obligations are met, or it may remain in effect until the entire balance of past-due child support is paid, along with interest. 

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Hoffman Estates child support modification attorney

During a divorce that involves children, one parent (typically the non-custodial parent) will usually be ordered to pay child support to the other parent. However, the one constant in life is change. When life changes affect a parent’s employment and the income he or she earns, modifications to child support orders may be necessary. This can ensure that a parent will not be required to make payments that he or she cannot afford, and it can make sure that both parents are continuing to meet their children’s financial needs. 

Since Illinois law takes both parents’ incomes into account when determining child support, if either parent receives a promotion or an increase in pay, the amount of the parents’ child support obligations may need to be recalculated. If you need help modifying your child support order, you should work with an experienced family law attorney.

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Mt. Prospect divorce attorney for child support and spousalMost people know how much income they earn in a month or a year. Sometimes, however, determining the actual amount of income can become complicated. For example, what if you are an independent contractor, and your income is constantly in flux? Or, what if you are receiving Social Security benefits? These are just two situations in which determining how much income you have becomes tricky. However, your income will play a vital role in divorce proceedings, particularly when finalizing terms regarding child support and spousal maintenance. So, how do you define your income in divorce proceedings? In Illinois, these determinations are based on three different statutes: the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), the Income Withholding for Support Act, and the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). 

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

The UIFSA governs financial support obligations for divorced spouses who live in different states, and it has the broadest definition of income. Under the UIFSA, income is considered any earnings or property subject to withholding for support. 

To understand this vague definition, you must first determine what income and other property is subject to withholding for support. This is outlined in the Income Withholding for Support Act.

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Barrington child support lawyerA non-custodial parent who is ordered by a judge to pay child support may experience feelings of contempt and hostility toward his or her former partner. These strong emotions do not necessarily occur because a parent does not want to provide financially for his or her children, but they often result from a loss of control over one’s finances. With no way of knowing what those child support payments are being used for, a parent may worry about whether they are actually going toward the daily living expenses of the child or are being used to pay for other costs incurred by the custodial parent. A non-custodial may also wonder why he or she may be required to pay additional expenses as part of his or her child support obligations. So, what does child support actually pay for?

Basic Child Support Obligations

In Illinois, all parents have a legal obligation to provide for their children financially until the time a child turns 18. This support is meant to provide for the basic living expenses of the child, including food, clothing, housing and other basic needs. Essentially, child support payments are meant to provide for the child’s needs in a way that replicates a two-parent household. However, in addition to this basic support obligation, non-custodial parents may also be required to provide additional financial support that meets children’s other needs. 

Additional Child Support Obligations

While a basic child support obligation is meant to provide for a child’s daily living expenses, Illinois law outlines four categories for additional child support above and beyond the basic obligation:

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Mt. Prospect child support attorney wage garnishmentIn Illinois, child support is taken seriously. Illinois law recognizes that all parents are financially responsible for meeting their children’s needs until the children are no longer minors. While ensuring that children’s safety and welfare are protected, the law can place a financial burden on those who must pay support. When non-custodial parents do not pay financial support, the other parent may take measures to ensure child support is paid. 

Non-custodial parents who do not pay child support can be held in contempt of court. However, cases involving non-payment are often resolved before these types of charges are filed, and to ensure that payments are made, the non-custodial parent’s wages may be garnished. The parent’s employer will then be responsible for deducting the ordered amount from his or her wages and making the payments to the custodial parent. However, a parent may wonder how wage garnishment is handled and what will happen if an employer fails to make these payments. 

How Wage Garnishment for Child Support Works

A parent who has not received court-ordered child support payments can petition the court to garnish the wages of the other parent. The amount garnished may address both ongoing payments and any back payments and interest owed. If the court allows the wage garnishment, up to 50 percent of the non-custodial parent’s wages can be deducted from their paychecks. If the non-custodial parent does not have any other support obligations, such as child support or spousal support from a previous relationship, up to 60 percent of his or her wages can be garnished. Additionally, if a non-custodial parent is more than 12 weeks behind on child support payments, another 5 percent can be garnished from his or her wages. 

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Inverness divorce and child custody lawyerIf you are going through a divorce with children involved, you will also have to go through child custody proceedings. Child custody, which is known as the “allocation of parental responsibilities” in Illinois, is one of the most emotional and hotly contested aspects of any divorce, since there is a lot on the line. In order to give your case the best chance of success in court, you should be sure to know what to do and what not to do. If you are currently going through a custody battle, make sure you avoid making any of the following mistakes that could sabotage your case:

1. Try to Alienate Your Children From the Other Parent

During a divorce, one parent may try to influence the other parent’s relationship with the couple’s children. He or she may not allow the child to call the other parent during visits, or he or she may speak badly about the other parent to the child. While this type of behavior is common in divorce cases, the courts do not view it favorably. A judge will typically view alienation as damaging to the child, and he or she may choose to restrict the parental responsibilities or parenting time of a parent who engages in parental alienation. 

2. Yell at Your Spouse or Children

People sometimes “play dirty” during divorce proceedings, and your ex-spouse may go so far as to record your conversations. If you yell at or belittle your ex-spouse or child in any way, this can have a very damaging impact on your child custody case. While recordings made without your permission are not admissible in court, the mere existence of a record of your behavior can be damaging to your case. The only way to make certain that this type of behavior will not affect your relationship with your children is to never yell at your spouse or children or become violent in any way.

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Arlington Heights uncontested divorce attorneyGetting an uncontested divorce sounds fairly simple. In fact, these are typically the least complicated divorces in Illinois because both spouses agree to the terms of the divorce; however, this type of divorce isn’t always straightforward or uncomplicated. Any couple facing a divorce, even one that is uncontested, is going to have questions. Below are the five most common issues that come up in uncontested divorces: 

Can We Use the Same Lawyer?

One lawyer representing both sides in any legal matter is a major conflict of interest. While both spouses may consult with a single attorney as they proceed with the divorce process, the attorney can only represent one spouse during the divorce proceedings. In order to ensure that both parties’ rights are protected, you and your spouse should use different attorneys that will represent each party’s separate interests. Even during an uncontested divorce, you will need legal advice on the steps to take and an advocate who will stand up for your rights. 

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?

This will depend on the timelines followed in your local family court, which can range from as little as two weeks to up to two months. In addition to the court timelines, there are other factors that will affect how long your divorce will take. These include the court’s schedule and how long it takes:

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Mt. Prospect divorce attorney adulteryIn April of 2019, daytime talk show host Wendy Williams filed for divorce from her husband, Kevin Hunter. During the divorce proceedings, Hunter requested a substantial amount in spousal support, as well as child support for the couple’s 18-year-old son, Kevin Junior. Hunter relied on his job as executive producer on Williams’ show for an income, and he was also her personal manager. Now, after being fired from both jobs, he has no source of income. 

This case is interesting, raising several questions. One significant issue involves Williams’ claim that she should not have to pay spousal support because Hunter cheated on her. Those who are divorcing in Illinois may wonder how the state’s laws would address these issues. Does adultery affect the terms of a divorce? 

Adultery as Grounds for Divorce

In Illinois, the only grounds for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” This simply means that there has been a breakdown in the marriage and that there is no hope that the couple will reconcile. This is different than how divorce worked in Illinois historically, as previously, there was once a long list of grounds for divorce, including adultery. 

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Barrington child custody lawyerEven those who do not regularly follow celebrity news may have heard about the breakup of Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson. Aside from the entertainment aspect of the story, people may be curious about the legal effects of the breakup and how similar matters would be handled in Illinois. Since the couple has a child together, the question of how child custody and child support will be handled may be on some people’s minds.

Child Custody for Unwed Parents in Illinois

When a child is born to a married couple in Illinois, the husband is assumed to be the father of the child. However, that is not the case when the parents are unwed. If unmarried parents break up, the parentage of the child will need to be legally established before decisions can be made about child custody.

Parentage is established in one of three ways in Illinois. The easiest way is for both parents to complete a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) in which they both agree the man in question is the biological father of the child. If the parents do not agree to submit a VAP, a court may order DNA testing to establish that the man is the child’s biological father, and an Order of Paternity will be issued. In addition to these options, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services may also conduct paternity testing and enter an Administrative Paternity Order.

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Palatine divorce and child support lawyerThere 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.

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Schaumburg prenuptial agreement attorneyHollywood is accustomed to ugly divorces. In 2018, Jersey Shore actor Jenni “JWoww” Farley filed for divorce from her husband, Roger Matthews, and now Matthews is contesting the validity of the couple’s prenuptial agreement. While the concerns of reality TV stars do not apply to most of us, any couple can have a prenuptial agreement. If you are going through a divorce, and you have a prenup, you will want to be sure to understand how Illinois law will apply to your case, including whether your prenuptial agreement can be contested.

Prenuptial Agreement Laws in Illinois

The Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act governs all prenuptial agreements filed in the state of Illinois. This law states that to be enforceable, both parties must agree to the prenup and sign it. The agreement will go into effect on the couple’s wedding day.

The Illinois statute includes some provisions on what is unlawful to include in a prenuptial agreement. These include any terms that violate public policy or criminal statutes. Spouses are also not allowed to waive the right to receive child support or agree that a parent will not be required to pay his or her child support obligations.

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Hoffman Estates child support attorneySeparated 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? 

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Arlington Heights child support enforcement lawyerGetting 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.

Court Enforcement 

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.

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Barrington child support lawyerOne 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. 

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Schaumburg divorce lawyer college expensesDivorced 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. 

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Posted on in Child Support

enforcing child support in Illinois, Palatine family law attorneyChild 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.

Liens

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.

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Posted on in Child Support

enforcing child support, Illinois divorce lawyersEvery 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.

Garnishing Wages

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.

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Posted on in Child Support

Palatine family law attorney, child support, imputed incomeChild 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.

Imputing 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.

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non-minor educational support, Palatine Family Law AttorneyIn 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.

Existing Law

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:

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