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Columbia Divorce and Family Law Blog

What to do to keep the house after a divorce

61274652_S.jpgPeople in Illinois who are considering keeping the family home in a divorce must first reach an agreement with their spouse about the value of the house and how much equity each person has in it. With this information, the spouse who wants to keep the home knows how much to pay the other spouse for it.

Some couples arrange for one person to keep more of the assets while the other keeps the home to make up this difference. This could mean that one person keeps another piece of property, a retirement account or other assets. Some people might be able to refinance or take out a home equity line of credit. In other circumstances, a person's family may be able to help with a loan.

Overdue child support and applying for a mortgage

33149085_S.jpgIllinois parents who have to pay child support should know that this obligation is considered a debt when they try to qualify for a home loan. If they are delinquent in paying child support or have a child support arrearage, it can be considered a negative credit event and impair their chances of being approved for a mortgage. However, it is not entirely impossible for people who owe overdue child support payments to qualify for a mortgage.

Individuals who want to obtain a mortgage should review their credit report to verify what is being reported and to determine if their FICO score is good enough to meet the standards established by their lender. They should also use a home affordability calculator to determine if they will be able to handle a mortgage while having to pay current debts as well as overdue child support payments.

Modifying child support in Illinois

70448784_S.jpgThe rules dealing with child support in Illinois were revised in 2017. Judges in the state now look at the incomes of both parents after determining how much money is needed to take care of the child's basic needs. Prior to the 2017 law, only the income of the obligor was considered when child support decisions were made. However, obligors with child support orders that were issued prior to the new law's passage must still establish that either their circumstances or the needs of the child have changed significantly if they want the amount they pay each month to be reduced.

Child support modifications may be ordered if the obligor has lost their job or has a new job with a lower salary. Obligees could request a modification if the obligor's income has increased or the child's educational or health care expenses have risen. When judges in Illinois determine that a new child support arrangement is appropriate, the amount ordered will be calculated under the provisions of the 2017 law.

What parents can do to get custody of their children

76109357_S.jpgParents in Illinois and throughout the country typically want to be involved in their children's lives. However, it may not always be in a child's best interest to interact on a regular basis with mom or dad. If a parent is denied custody, there may be things that parents can do to obtain custody in the future. For instance, a judge may allow custody after completing a parenting class or going to rehab.

Even if there is no guarantee that custody will be granted after complying with a judge's order, it is still a good idea to comply as soon as possible. Doing so shows that an individual is serious about being a part of his or her child's life. Parents who aren't granted custody may still be given visitation rights to the child. It is important to make full use of those rights as it can further show a judge that a person is serious about being a good parent.

SNAP issues new guidance for parents

45174342_S.jpgThe Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, provides resources to about 40 million people in Illinois and across the country. It is not uncommon for children with only one parent to receive SNAP benefits. In fact, a child who only has one parent is 37% more likely to live in poverty compared to those who have both parents at home. This is partially because noncustodial parents do not comply with their financial obligations to their children.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has asked state SNAP administrators to make child support agreements a condition of participating in the program. In 2015, a majority of low-income custodial parents did not have a child support agreement in place. By taking steps to ensure that they are in place, it could help to close the child support gap in the United States.

Military divorce rate continues to trend downward

46164044_S.jpgDivorce rates among active-duty U.S. military members living in Illinois and elsewhere declined slightly in 2018, according to data from the U.S. Department of Defense. The dip continues a downward trend that began 10 years ago.

Researchers calculate the annual military divorce rate by comparing the number of active-duty troops who are married at the beginning of a fiscal year with the number who completed divorces by the end the year. Defense Department statistics show that 3% of service members who were married at the beginning of 2018 got divorced at some point during the year. That percentage represents a 0.1% drop from 2017.

How someone other than a parent can get custody

37093178_S.jpgWhen someone other than a child's parent gets custody of that child, it is referred to as third-party custody. This generally only takes place when the biological parents either don't want their children or are unable to take care of them. Those in Illinois and elsewhere who want to obtain custody of a child must first show that they have standing to do so. For instance, a court may find that the person whom the child lives with could become a child's legal parent.

This person could be anyone from a grandparent to an aunt or family friend. Older siblings may also be allowed to adopt younger siblings if they demonstrate the ability to do so. If an individual is deemed worthy of petitioning for custody, it must still be shown that there is a good reason to allow the petitioner to have it.

What courts take into account to calculate support after divorce

36928961_S.jpgIllinois judges will take several factors into account when determining how much a person must pay in child and spousal support after a divorce. While individual courts may differ in the specifics, they all generally follow the same guidelines.

Calculating income for the purposes of alimony and child support can be somewhat complex. A court might include everything from wages and performance bonuses to deferred compensation and investment dividends. Judges may also look beyond the income reported on tax returns for other means of support if the family appears to have a lifestyle that could not be supported by reported income. Another consideration is what the ex could potentially be earning or what they lived on during the marriage. In the first instance, an ex who has a professional degree but is working in retail might be expected to earn a higher income. An example of the second instance might be someone who received money from family during the marriage despite not working outside the home.

Determining custody of children with unwed parents

86195193_S.jpgThere has been an increase in children born to unmarried individuals. This increase is seen across the country, including in Illinois. In the United States, it is estimated that 40 percent of children are born to unmarried parents. This is an 18 percent increase from 2007.

The legal system in the United States is based on the idea that a baby's parents are married to each other. One could ask what happens if the biological father does not want to be included in the child's life and is not listed on the birth certificate. Is it automatically assumed that the mother has sole custody of the child, or does the mother have to file for custody? This can be a sticky situation because some mothers may be concerned that if they do not file for child custody, an absentee father may reappear in the future and demand joint custody or demand regular visitation.

Rob Kardashian, Blac Chyna reach child support agreement

50038038_S.jpgIllinois fans of celebrities Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian may be aware that the two have been in a dispute over child support and other issues since they split up in December 2016. The two were only together for about a year, and their relationship ended within months of the birth of their daughter.

Kardashian had asked for his payments of $20,000 per month to be modified because he could no longer afford them. He said he would not be appearing on "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" any longer and that he had been damaged by a restraining order Chyna filed against him in 2017. In an Instagram post that she later deleted, Chyna reportedly said she had never asked him for child support.

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