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Columbia Divorce & Family Law Blog by Stange Law Firm, PC

Helping children to thrive after a divorce

Every parent in Illinois wants to raise well-balanced and emotionally stable children. For this to happen, it's often important that the kids have a relationship with both of their parents. If the parents are separated, however, relationships could suffer. That's why exes should take steps to co-parent effectively.

While there are likely serious issues that caused the parents to split up, they will need to come together and do what is best for their children. They should openly communicate about the parenting schedule. When the children see that each ex-spouse is working together for their well-being, they are likely to feel a sense of security.

Options when a parent has difficulty making a court date

86281621_S.jpgParents in Illinois dealing with child custody issues might encounter an inconvenient court hearing date and wish to change it. While it is not always possible to do so, there are options that might allow it or provide alternative ways for a parent to appear in court. The procedure for this varies from state to state, but there are general guidelines about what a parent can do.

In most cases, courts will not change a hearing date. There are exceptions to this, however. If a parent has moved to a different state and has difficulty physically getting around, a court might allow a date change. Another reason a court might consider changing a hearing date for child custody is if the date would negatively impact the parent's employment. Finally, a court might change the hearing date if a parent fears for their safety by attending the hearing. In those cases, the parent must show proof of the situation via a court order of protection or through other evidence. For the court to grant a change or postponement of a hearing date, the parent must provide documentation for the required change.

How parents can keep up with child support proceedings

133129350_S (1).jpgParents in Illinois are responsible for providing emotional and financial support to their kids. This is typically true whether a parent is married, separated or divorced from the child's other parent. There are several ways that individuals can determine if they owe child support. The easiest way is often to simply ask the other parent if a support order has been filed.

If an order has been filed, the custodial parent may provide details such as the amount of each payment and when it is due. Individuals might also get letters or notices from the government agency that is tasked with handling child support matters. These notices will tell parents about upcoming court dates or remind when a payment is due or is past due.

Preparing children to spend time with the other parent

100265463_S.jpgParents in Illinois will generally share custody and visitation rights to their children. Therefore, they will generally need to decide ahead of time how they will make the transition from one parent to the other easier on themselves and their children. Ideally, parents will spend time creating a plan that includes details such as when and where transitions will occur. The children should also be notified in advance so that they know what to expect.

It can be a good idea to allow children to bring comfort items with them wherever they go. These items could include a blanket, stuffed animal or a favorite video game. Parents should allow children to choose which items to bring as it gives them a sense of control in an otherwise uncertain situation. Reducing a child's stress or anxiety level can also be helpful to the other parent.

The stereotype of the 'deadbeat dad'

49774019_S.jpgIn Illinois and across the United States, many people are familiar with the term "deadbeat dad." However, the phrase is not always used correctly. Even though the word appears in regulations representing some states, parents are not automatically "deadbeats" because they cannot make child support payments. Furthermore, the term "deadbeat" does not only apply to dads. Moms can also fall behind in their child support payments.

However, those who cannot meet child support obligations because they lost employment or met with other unexpected financial difficulties are not automatically classified as "deadbeat" moms or dads. A parent who is willing to pay child support without having the necessary financial means may qualify for a child support modification endorsed by the court. The definition of a "deadbeat parent" is a person who doesn't pay child support on a regular basis even though the court previously ordered them to make said payments.

Actor accused of falling far behind in his child support payments

122993497_S.jpgWhen there is a divorce in Illinois and across the United States, couples with children should think about how child support will be handled. Caring and providing for children is a fundamental necessity even after a marriage has ended. The key is to ensure the best interests of the child are served. Unfortunately, there are cases where the supporting parent will fall behind in the payments or not make the payments at all. Some of these cases involve recognizable people.

The actor Charlie Sheen is being accused by his ex-wife, actress Denise Richards, of failing to pay child support. They divorced in 2006. According to Ms. Richards, Mr. Sheen owes $450,000. She says that he wasted the wealth he accrued from selling his stake in his television show, "Two and a Half Men" and failed to cover the support payments. He is also accused of shifting assets worth more than $600,000 to other family members and accumulating cash to use for himself.

Joint custody arrangements should focus on child's best interests

47230823_S.jpgGoing through a divorce in Illinois can be stressful, especially if there are children involved. Parents who are attempting to co-parent using a joint custody setup should keep in mind that the point of the exercise is to work together for the good of the children. When in doubt, it's a good idea to try to see the situation from the perspective of the child to the extent possible. Adjusting to life with only one parent at a time can be difficult.

Logistics should be among the first considerations; if the parents find it inconvenient to shuttle the kids back and forth or find times to make exchanges, it's even more difficult on the child. It can be impractical for two parents who live a great distance from one another to implement a parenting schedule effectively if it's a logistical nightmare. It's important for parents to consider the locations of their homes as well as where the kids' schools, friends and extracurricular activities are.

Allegations often fly in child custody disputes

42399621_S.jpgFamily law judges in Illinois and around the country are sometimes tasked with making very difficult decisions, particularly when the welfare of a young child is involved. It is not unknown for parents embroiled in bitter custody disputes to hurl incendiary allegations at one another, and the decisions that judges make are often based on which parent they believe. According to some experts, judges are often guided in these situations by popular but unproven theories, pseudo experts and their own biases.

It is not uncommon in child custody disputes for mothers to accuse fathers of physical or sexual abuse and for fathers to claim that mothers are guilty of parental alienation. Parental alienation occurs when one parent turns a child against the other. The concept is not endorsed by the American Medical Association or the American Psychiatric Association, but it is widely embraced by family law judges according to research conducted by a George Washington University Law School professor. After studying 2,000 child custody cases involving allegations of abuse and alienation, the professor found that fathers were awarded physical custody twice as often as mothers.

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.

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