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Columbia Divorce and Family Law Blog

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.

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.

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