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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.

Custody is then followed by child support negotiations. This support was originally intended to cover the costs of raising a child. According to some experts, however, it has also become a source of secret alimony. With current USDA standards estimating that raising a child takes about $12,000 a year, the financial responsibility of each parent should not exceed $500 a month. But when many state formulas for determining support are used, the amount can be a lot higher. One way to prevent this is by negotiating amicably.

Parents who are dealing with custody and support negotiations can also benefit from the knowledge and experience a family law attorney can offer. A lawyer can assist them through the negotiations and help them prepare by gathering documents, filling out forms and representing them in meetings and hearings.

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