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Columbia Divorce and Family Law Blog

Fathers struggle with child support payments

58217498_S.jpgMany fathers in Illinois are struggling with issues related to child support, especially when they infrequently have the opportunity to spend time with their children. Indeed, some men feel that they were treated unfairly in family court, especially in terms of the amount of child support they are required to pay each month. However, engaging actively in the process can help fathers to secure an outcome that is more just and fair and recognizes their role in their children's lives.

When parents decide to divorce, child support can be part of the original divorce decree. The issue can be brought up again later as well, especially if changes occur that affect a father's ability to pay. It is important for fathers to protect their rights during the divorce negotiations in terms of property division and alimony as well as child support, because the financial damages inflicted by divorce can also injure a father's ability to provide child support. This includes providing accurate, correct information about income during the divorce and to state agencies. By doing so, fathers can prevent the assignment of an imputed income which can be far greater than their actual paychecks.

How parents can prepare for their child support hearing

18914952_S.jpgWhen Illinois parents get divorced or decide to separate, one parent is often required to pay a certain amount in child support. Judges use financial information provided by both parents to make determinations about how much these payments will be. Because judges generally do not know the families, parents should prepare for the hearing.

Parents should read all of their mail to ensure that they do not miss any piece of information that may come from their attorney, the other parent or the court. If the parents are required to take action, they should do so in a timely manner. If the parents are required to go to court for a child support hearing, they should ensure that they arrive on time. If possible, arriving early can allow parents to reduce their nervousness before the case begins.

Using voluntary impoverishment to avoid child support

19208847_S.jpgSome parents in Illinois may be struggling to collect child support from their exes. The parent who is owed support may suspect the other parent of underreporting income or deliberately earning less in order to avoid higher child support payments. The latter is known as "voluntary impoverishment," and there are ways to detect if this might be happening.

The office of child support enforcement can assist a parent in collecting support. If the parents do not already have a legally binding support arrangement in place, this office can help in filing for one. The office can also investigate if there is unreported income. One way to do this is by looking into whether the person has recently applied for a purchase on credit and to examine the sources of income reported on the application.

How parents can navigate a custody case

44560442_S.jpgIn a child custody case, a judge's ruling is likely going to hinge on perception as much as it does reality. Therefore, Illinois parents who want custody of their children should spend as much time with them as possible. They should also be sure to comply with any court rulings that are issued. Furthermore, it is a good idea to invite a representative of the court to do an in-home visit.

This visit can make it possible to show that a person is a good parent who is capable of providing a stable environment for his or her son or daughter. In some cases, it can work to negate any incorrect statements or outright lies that the child's other parent may make. Parents who believe that their children are in danger when with their former spouses should document instances of abuse or neglect.

Documentary highlights problems with child support system

67084405_S.jpgA study by the Urban Institute found that 70 percent of the total child support debt owed in Illinois and across the U.S. is owed by parents who have no reported income or make less than $10,000 per year. Often, parents go into court on child support matters without a lawyer because they cannot afford one. They may be unprepared and uninformed regarding the basics of family law.

Many parents who are subject to child support orders do not know, for example, that they can ask the court to reassess their monthly payments if they change jobs or their financial situation otherwise changes. Failure to make required payments due to financial hardship can have damaging consequences: The non-paying parent may lose his or her driver's license or be sentenced to jail time. Both of those consequences can make it harder for the parent to earn money thereafter.

Establishing paternity

10651364_S.jpgThere are multiple reasons fathers in Illinois should establish paternity. Among them are the legal benefits the child can obtain: The child will be entitled to various forms of financial benefits from the father, including regular child support, Social Security benefits, veteran's benefits and inheritances. Establishing paternity also allows the child to have access to their father's medical history, which is useful for learning about any inherited medical conditions that could possibly affect the child.

The birth father has two options when he wants to establish paternity voluntarily. One method is signing a Declaration of Paternity at the birth of the child. In order for the father to have his name on the child's birth certificate, the completion of the document is required.

Tax considerations in child custody cases

50898558_S.jpgWhen people are involved in child custody cases in Illinois, there are some important things that they should know about how it might affect their taxes. Child custody may affect the dependency exemptions and the available credits that people can claim on their income tax forms.

Parents may receive several tax benefits when they claim their children as dependents. They may receive the dependency exemption, the child tax credit, the earned income credit, and the credit for child care expenses, and they may be able to claim head of the household status. All of these benefits can save people thousands of dollars on their taxes or lead to larger refunds.

Bankruptcy has little impact on child support

17195786_S.jpgParents in Illinois and throughout the country should be aware that bankruptcy generally will not absolve a parent of his or her obligation to pay child support. Child support is designed to protect the best interests of the child. Therefore, courts strongly believe that both parents should contribute financially toward raising their children. If a parent files for bankruptcy, it doesn't act as a stay on any action to determine paternity.

It also has no impact on any existing child support order or an obligation to abide by it. A parent will still be responsible for paying any back support regardless of whether or not he or she asks for bankruptcy protection. Even if a support order is modified, parents are still required to pay any amounts that are currently in arrears. The modification only impacts future payments owed to a custodial parent.

Custodial interference violates the law

49949771_S (1).jpgWhen fathers in Illinois find their custody time frequently interrupted, delayed or denied, they may need to take legal action. Custodial interference occurs when one parent attempts to block or undermine the other parent's right to custody of their children. In addition to interfering with the practical matters of arranging custody, the practice could harm the emotional bond between the parent and child. Custodial interference is not simply a matter of differing schedules or resolving small issues; it is a criminal matter that should be taken seriously.

In order for a parent to be held accountable for custodial interference, it is necessary to have a child custody agreement on record with the court. Many parents neglect to establish a custody agreement when separating, especially if they were never married. This can make it more difficult to fight back later. A custody agreement could reflect joint custody, shared custody or primary custody for one parent with explicit visitation for the other parent. When this kind of custody order is in place and a parent refuses to hand over the child, courts may charge custodial interference.

How child custody cases are decided

Judges in Illinois and throughout the country use a variety of factors when making a ruling in a child custody case. The top priority in any case is the best interest of the child. In most cases, both parents will be given equal access to a child assuming that they are both fit to do so. However, a final determination as to a child's best interest can only be made after reviewing the facts relevant to a given case.

Equal custody may not be possible in the event that the parents live far away from each other. A judge may also consider the ability of a parent to provide a stable home life in general, which may depend on his or her work schedule or ability to earn a steady paycheck. In some cases, one parent may win physical custody of a child.

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Stange Law Firm, PC

Stange Law Firm, PC
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Belleville, Illinois 62221

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