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Columbia Divorce and Family Law Blog

How domestic violence can affect parenting time

Domestic violence can have a deep impact not only on the victim but also on those who witness the abuse, particularly when they are children. This might be a concern facing Illinois parents who are negotiating parental responsibilities and have been victims of domestic violence. They might also worry about how the court will handle allegations of domestic violence or even distant-past instances of such as abuse when it comes to parenting time.

Courts will always consider the best interests of the child, so even though the goal of the court is usually to have the child continue their relationship with both parents as much as possible, if there are abuse allegations, the court will take them very seriously. When it comes to family law matters, a parent might lose parenting time if the court finds evidence of domestic violence or enough concern with the allegations to believe that parent could pose a danger to the child or their other parent. During the investigation, the court will consider what impact, if any, the domestic violence had on the child, if the abuse is continuing, if there is a criminal case pending against the abuser, how severe the abuse has been, any photographic evidence gathered and any police reports.

Know the signs of parental alienation

93773502_S.jpgDivorced mothers and fathers in Illinois may find themselves dealing with the troubling problem of parental alienation. This happens when a child is encouraged to turn away from one of his or her parents in an extreme or radical way. While this type of alienation can happen between parents who are still together, it is far more common in divorced families. Either parent, whether or not he or she has the majority of parental responsibilities, could be responsible for interfering with the child's bond with the other parent.

When Illinois judges deal with child custody issues, they assign "parental responsibilities" to emphasize both parents' roles. However, where the child lives is not the key factor in parental alienation. Furthermore, the effects go beyond what is common for normal life transitions like puberty. A child may begin to exclude his or her parents from life events or request that one parent no longer attend parent/teacher conferences, school events and school meetings. In fact, that parent could be removed as a contact with the school administration.

Dealing with the unique challenges of a gray divorce

37230859_S.jpgOver the past few decades, divorce rates among older adults have doubled. For most older couples ending a marriage in Illinois, circumstances are typically different than what's associated with divorces among younger partners. For instance, child support and custody often aren't part of the equation since children are usually grown. In many cases, the major issue for older soon-to-be ex-spouses is the division of retirement funds and other assets.

Even if a partner is fairly generous with property division arrangements, there are certain rules that apply when 401(k)s and IRAs need to be divided. With annuities, assets may need to be traded off to maintain values. If 401(k) contributions came from mutual income, both partners may be entitled to part of those assets. This sometimes comes as a surprise to older adults, especially those close to retirement.

Child support when both parents have custody

37314715_S (2).jpgParents in Illinois and throughout the country may be required to pay child support even if they have shared custody of their children. Most states have formulas to determine how much a parent must pay. This formula uses variables such as how much an individual makes and how many other children he or she must support.

It is possible that a divorced couple with children will create their own support plan. This will allow them to provide financially for the children without the need for a court order. However, if an order is granted, it will generally be in effect even when a child is with the noncustodial parent. The ruling will stay in effect because it may still be necessary to pay medical, housing or other recurring costs regardless of where the child is at any given time.

Fathers struggle with child support payments

58217498_S.jpgMany fathers in Illinois are struggling with issues related to child support, especially when they infrequently have the opportunity to spend time with their children. Indeed, some men feel that they were treated unfairly in family court, especially in terms of the amount of child support they are required to pay each month. However, engaging actively in the process can help fathers to secure an outcome that is more just and fair and recognizes their role in their children's lives.

When parents decide to divorce, child support can be part of the original divorce decree. The issue can be brought up again later as well, especially if changes occur that affect a father's ability to pay. It is important for fathers to protect their rights during the divorce negotiations in terms of property division and alimony as well as child support, because the financial damages inflicted by divorce can also injure a father's ability to provide child support. This includes providing accurate, correct information about income during the divorce and to state agencies. By doing so, fathers can prevent the assignment of an imputed income which can be far greater than their actual paychecks.

How parents can prepare for their child support hearing

18914952_S.jpgWhen Illinois parents get divorced or decide to separate, one parent is often required to pay a certain amount in child support. Judges use financial information provided by both parents to make determinations about how much these payments will be. Because judges generally do not know the families, parents should prepare for the hearing.

Parents should read all of their mail to ensure that they do not miss any piece of information that may come from their attorney, the other parent or the court. If the parents are required to take action, they should do so in a timely manner. If the parents are required to go to court for a child support hearing, they should ensure that they arrive on time. If possible, arriving early can allow parents to reduce their nervousness before the case begins.

Using voluntary impoverishment to avoid child support

19208847_S.jpgSome parents in Illinois may be struggling to collect child support from their exes. The parent who is owed support may suspect the other parent of underreporting income or deliberately earning less in order to avoid higher child support payments. The latter is known as "voluntary impoverishment," and there are ways to detect if this might be happening.

The office of child support enforcement can assist a parent in collecting support. If the parents do not already have a legally binding support arrangement in place, this office can help in filing for one. The office can also investigate if there is unreported income. One way to do this is by looking into whether the person has recently applied for a purchase on credit and to examine the sources of income reported on the application.

How parents can navigate a custody case

44560442_S.jpgIn a child custody case, a judge's ruling is likely going to hinge on perception as much as it does reality. Therefore, Illinois parents who want custody of their children should spend as much time with them as possible. They should also be sure to comply with any court rulings that are issued. Furthermore, it is a good idea to invite a representative of the court to do an in-home visit.

This visit can make it possible to show that a person is a good parent who is capable of providing a stable environment for his or her son or daughter. In some cases, it can work to negate any incorrect statements or outright lies that the child's other parent may make. Parents who believe that their children are in danger when with their former spouses should document instances of abuse or neglect.

Documentary highlights problems with child support system

67084405_S.jpgA study by the Urban Institute found that 70 percent of the total child support debt owed in Illinois and across the U.S. is owed by parents who have no reported income or make less than $10,000 per year. Often, parents go into court on child support matters without a lawyer because they cannot afford one. They may be unprepared and uninformed regarding the basics of family law.

Many parents who are subject to child support orders do not know, for example, that they can ask the court to reassess their monthly payments if they change jobs or their financial situation otherwise changes. Failure to make required payments due to financial hardship can have damaging consequences: The non-paying parent may lose his or her driver's license or be sentenced to jail time. Both of those consequences can make it harder for the parent to earn money thereafter.

Establishing paternity

10651364_S.jpgThere are multiple reasons fathers in Illinois should establish paternity. Among them are the legal benefits the child can obtain: The child will be entitled to various forms of financial benefits from the father, including regular child support, Social Security benefits, veteran's benefits and inheritances. Establishing paternity also allows the child to have access to their father's medical history, which is useful for learning about any inherited medical conditions that could possibly affect the child.

The birth father has two options when he wants to establish paternity voluntarily. One method is signing a Declaration of Paternity at the birth of the child. In order for the father to have his name on the child's birth certificate, the completion of the document is required.

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Stange Law Firm, PC

Stange Law Firm, PC
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Belleville, Illinois 62221

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