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Columbia Divorce and Family Law Blog

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.

How parents get resolve visitation issues

71489885_S.jpgTypically, a court will allow noncustodial parents in Illinois to see their children after a divorce. In some cases, a judge will order that visitation happen under the supervision of another person or occur in a public place. In some cases, visitation rights are granted under the condition that a parent seek help for an anger, substance abuse or other type of problem.

Ideally, a parent will comply with such an order as quickly as possible. Doing so shows the court that a mother or father is willing to do whatever it takes to be in the child's life. When creating any sort of visitation order, a court will determine what is in the kid's best interest. In most cases, anger or other issues will be seen as a threat to a son or daughter's safety.

Detecting domestic violence

35442523_S.jpgMany victims of domestic violence in Illinois require treatment at a hospital. When providing medical attention, physicians usually ask about the cause of an injury. Whether it's out of fear of their abuser or a sense of denial, a victim may lie about the cause.

Fortunately, physicians are finding new ways to detect domestic violence. Recently, a group of doctors published a study detailing the radiographic findings in domestic violence. Put more simply, doctors can make more educated guesses as to how a patient got injured based on demographics as well as the pattern of the injury itself. This means that some unusual patterns of broken bones may alert doctors to the possibility of abuse.

Why child support payments may be terminated

29982289_S (1).jpgIllinois parents with child support obligations could face negative consequences if they fail to make full payments. This is true even if a custodial parent withholds visitation or otherwise interferes with the relationship between the noncustodial parent and child. Generally speaking, the courts see child support and child custody or visitation issues as two separate matters. Therefore, a parent would need to go to court to remedy any visitation issues.

Those who are having a hard time keeping up with their current support obligations could ask for a child support modification order. This may be granted if a parent has lost a job or is experiencing some other financial difficulties. Child support could also be terminated if a child is emancipated. However, a court will determine if a child is mature enough to be on their own before granting such a request. In some cases, child support orders will remain in effect if it's possible the child might ask for assistance after emancipation.

How to appeal a child custody order

41926379_S.jpgWhile every family court judge tries to rule in the best interest of the child in each case, the reality is that mistakes happen. In custody cases in Illinois and across the United States, judges may make a judgment call that isn't right. Thankfully, parents have the right to appeal most custody orders, but the rules regarding these appeals can vary between one state and another.

The first thing to consider is whether the order in the custody case is final. A final order is one in which the court has reached its ultimate conclusion on the issue. A final order is typically entered after a hearing is held and all arguments are heard. If an order isn't final, that means there are still issues to be decided at the trial level. Without a final order, an appeal isn't appropriate yet. The rules regarding these appeals depend on the laws of the state the court sits in, so parents may want to consult an attorney with experience in family law in their state.

Making arrangements for temporary guardianship of a child

37425418_S.jpgUnder certain circumstances, an Illinois parent may need to turn over their children to another adult for a short period of time. This is referred to as temporary guardianship when the other adult isn't the other parent. A parent raising a child on their own may need to take this action if, for example, they were going to be out of town for an extended period or incapacitated while recovering from surgery. Establishing temporary guardianship allows a child to live with a non-parent adult who would be responsible for that child's care and well-being.

If a parent has shared or joint child custody with a former spouse, temporary guardianship usually isn't necessary. However, a widowed parent or one with sole custody may prefer to take this step. Doing so would involve following state guidelines and procedures, which usually involves filling out a form. The selected temporary guardian should be someone responsible enough to provide necessary care.

When Parents Share Custody, Who Pays Support?

45024452_S.jpgAs Illinois parents know, child support is usually the responsibility of the non-custodial parent. However, while this might be simpler to establish when one parent has custody and the other parent has visitation rights, the question of how child support is paid when parents share custody is more difficult to answer.

Joint custody, or shared custody, happens when parents split legal or physical custody of the child equally. This means that parents share the responsibility of the day-to-day raising of their children. So, while the Child Support Standards Acts governs child support obligations by parents, deciding how and when child support is paid during joint custody is a separate issue, particularly since states have different regulations and formulas for establishing child support amounts. In some states, when shared custody is concerned, child support is not established. In others, the child support amount is split in half and each parent is responsible for that half, or the amount is calculated based on the number of days a child spends with a parent. There are also states where the parent who has a higher income is determined as the non-custodial parent and continues to pay child support. In some cases, the parents reach an agreement about child support payments themselves.

What to avoid when dividing a home in a divorce

110166329_S.jpgIllinois homeowners who are getting divorced may face several issues during the property division process. If one spouse keeps the home, the other should be removed from the deed. Otherwise, there could be problems later if an amicable divorce turns contentious and the owner wants to sell. Problems could also arise for both exes if the owner goes into foreclosure.

Another common error is when one person fights for the home without first making sure it is affordable. While couples could agree to a sale during negotiations, many divorce-related home sales are actually ordered by judges following litigation. One option is for couples to agree to sell after a year or two as they wait for the market to improve or a child to finish school. A nesting arrangement might work in some of these cases. In this scenario, the children will stay in the home while the parents rotate living there.

Judges consider living accommodations when deciding child custody

79147253_S.jpgSometimes, a parent in Illinois will object to children staying at their other parent's home due to inadequate living accommodations. A child custody dispute could end up in family court where a judge will examine the situation and decide the issue. Although judges have some leeway when deciding individual cases, they will evaluate a parent's living accommodations, according to basic guidelines.

The gender and age of a child could influence a decision especially if the child is the opposite sex of the parent. A judge might want to ensure that an opposite-sex child has a private area for dressing, sleeping and using a bathroom. Age could become a factor because a judge might believe that an older child needs more room than a very young one. Available living space also matters when a parent needs to accommodate multiple children. A judge may or may not accept an arrangement that requires children to share a bedroom or sleep on a couch.

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