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Columbia Divorce and Family Law Blog

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.

When a parent is concerned about the child's safety

25243582_S.jpgWhen parents in Illinois are getting a divorce, one parent could be worried about the child's safety with the other parent. One father feared that his wife, who drank a lot, would drive with their 7-year-old son in the car. That father was also concerned about the fact that his wife wanted to delay the divorce in order to record herself taking care of the child. She had reportedly blocked him and given him no way to contact her, and he was concerned since he had been the child's main caregiver up to that point.

A parent can try to get emergency custody if a child is not safe, but a court will probably want some kind of evidence that the parent is unfit. Without a police report or a similar type of evidence, the parent might need to rely on witness accounts from a child care provider, a neighbor or someone else. However, even this may not be enough. In a case where a father drank nightly, a court ruled that since there was not sufficient evidence that he did it when his children were present, he could still have access to them.

Reality TV stars in custody battle

14129234_S (1).jpgSome Illinois fans of the reality TV show "Southern Charm" may have heard that one of its former cast members, Thomas Ravenel, was detained in September on charges of assault and battery. His ex-girlfriend and TV co-star, Kathryn Dennis, responded on Oct. 26 by filing for a modification in their custody and visitation agreement. The two share custody of their children, a 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

Ravenel was detained on Sept. 25. Reportedly, his children's former nanny accused him of sexual assault, and a source says these charges are related to that. A woman he met on Tinder has also accused him of sexual assault. Through his lawyer, he has denied both charges.

Immigration issues spur changes in child custody laws

25963128_S.jpgIllinois, like many other states across the country, is home to a diverse population of immigrants. As a result, immigration law and deportation are important considerations for families that may face immigration status challenges. Such issues can also lead to disputes regarding child custody in the event that a parent is scheduled for deportation.

A new study produced by Generations United has shown an increase in children of immigrants living with aunts, uncles and grandparents. According to the study, one in five children being raised by extended family members lives in an immigrant household.

Jolie and Pitt start child custody evaluations

12016760_S (2).jpgIllinois residents may know that the breakup of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt began over two years ago. However, the pair is just now focusing on creating a child custody agreement for their six children, who range in age from 10 to 16 years old. Custody evaluations were court ordered, and the doctor assigned to the task moved forward with starting the evaluation process on Oct. 12.

Jolie has reported on several occasions that she is "focused" on helping her children recover from the breakup that has been so often aired in the public spotlight. She is supportive of the children rebuilding healthy relationships with their father. However, because Pitt has not significantly supported his children financially since the separation started, Jolie is working with her new divorce attorney to petition the court to set up a formal child support order.

Joint custody, child support and parental cooperation

Illinois parents who have decided to divorce will be faced with figuring out how to best raise their children post-split. For some, that might mean adopting the traditional arrangement of one becoming the custodial parent and the other exercising visitation rights. This agreement also usually includes the non-custodial parent paying child support. However, many parents now choose to share parenting responsibilities through shared legal and physical custody. In those cases, the question arises about who pays support and how much.

Research has shown that most families benefit from shared custody. Joint custody, split 50-50, means that one parent does not bear the brunt of the parental responsibility. In other words, both parents get to be fully present in their children's lives. Once the parents agree to legal custody, which revolves around medical, educational and even religious decisions, they also need to establish physical custody, which revolves around where the children live.

Child custody for single mothers and fathers

28802371_S.jpgSome Illinois single mothers may be confused about how child custody laws assigning parental responsibilities and parenting time relate to their experiences. This is especially true when the father is unknown, is not listed on the birth certificate or does not want to play an active role in the child's life. Forty percent of all children across the country are born to parents who are not married, up from 18 percent in 2007. Of course, many unmarried parents are in committed relationships or both involved in their children's lives.

However, if the father of a child is not in the picture, a single mother may not know if she has to file for custody and officially seek the assignment of parental responsibilities. Some may worry that by filing for child custody to be established in their names, a formerly absent father may suddenly reappear, even if he has previously shown no interest in the child. When the parents of the child were never married and the father never established legal paternity, there is no presumption of paternity. However, if the father of the child comes forward, proves paternity and seeks parenting time or shared parental responsibilities, he has a right to make his case to the court.

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