IL family lawyerIf you are currently divorced or soon will be, you probably have questions about the financial implications of your divorce. One issue that many divorced parents are concerned about is their child’s college expenses. The average tuition for an Illinois public college is just under $5,500 a year. For out of state schools, tuition can be upwards of $20,000 a year. The average cost for a private college education in Illinois is almost $30,000 a year. Understandably, most parents experience “sticker shock” when they realize how expensive their child’s college education will likely be. They may also wonder how this cost will be divided between them and their child’s other parent.

Allocation of College Tuition for Unmarried and Divorced Parents

As with many other child-related matters, divorced or unmarried parents in Illinois have the opportunity to determine their own arrangements for financing their child’s college education. If parents cannot reach an agreement, the court may intervene. Parents’ financial responsibility for their child after he or she has turned 18 and graduated high school is referred to as “non-minor support.” Typically, parents are only responsible for non-minor support during the child’s undergraduate degree.

Factors Considered by Illinois Courts

Illinois judges have the authority to allocate college expenses between parents who are unmarried or divorced. These expenses may include costs related to tuition and fees, on-campus or off-campus housing, textbooks, and healthcare. If a child is living with one of his or her parents while he or she attends college, the parents may still be jointly responsible for costs related to transportation, food, and utilities. Unlike child support, there is no statutory formula for determining college expenses in Illinois. The amount each parent must contribute to the child’s college tuition and living expenses is at the judge’s discretion. Courts consider the following factors when determining how to allocate college costs:

  • Each parent’s financial resources
  • The child’s financial resources
  • The standard of living the child would have experienced if the parents were married
  • The child’s academic performance

Illinois law uses the present costs of tuition, fees, and housing at the University of Illinois, Champaign / Urbana to set the maximum amount of money a parent can be required to contribute to their child’s college education. The parents’ obligation terminates if the child does not maintain at least a “C” average or turns 23 years old. Upon good cause, such as the child’s medical problems or military service, the parent’s obligation may be extended until the child’s 25th birthday.

Contact a Kane County Child Support Lawyer

If you are unmarried, divorced, or considering divorce, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help with issues related to child support, the allocation of college expenses, and much more. Schedule a cost-free, confidential consultation with a knowledgeable St. Charles family law attorney by calling our office at 630-584-5550 today.

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IL divorce lawyerMost people assume that once a divorce has been finalized, the spouses’ actions can no longer influence the terms of the divorce. However, this is not the case when it comes to issues such as child support and spousal support. If you plan to remarry, you should know that your remarriage could influence the terms of your divorce decree. However, the ways in which remarriage impact divorce issues can vary case by case.

Spousal Support Terminates Upon Remarriage

If you are receiving spousal maintenance, also called spousal support or alimony, you will most likely no longer receive payments once you have remarried. As per Illinois law, a spousal maintenance recipient’s remarriage results in an immediate termination of the other spouse’s maintenance obligation. You should also know that a paying spouse may file a motion to terminate spousal support if the recipient spouse is living with a romantic partner on a “resident, continuing, conjugal basis.” This means that you may lose your spousal support if you are living with a boyfriend or girlfriend – even if you decide not to formalize the relationship through marriage. The only exception to these rules is if you and your ex-spouse had agreed to a different spousal maintenance arrangement in a valid marital agreement such as a prenuptial agreement.

Child Support Payments May Be Impacted by Remarriage

The way remarriage affects child support is not as straightforward as the way remarriage typically affects spousal maintenance. The Illinois Appellate Court has stated that courts may “equitably consider the income of a parent's current spouse” when deciding an appropriate child support order. If you are currently receiving child support from your ex-spouse it is very possible that your new spouse’s income will influence the amount you receive in child support. Child support obligations in Illinois are calculated using each parent’s net income. Although your new spouse’s income is not directly included during child support calculations, it is likely that your spouse’s financial support will impact your overall financial situation. For example, you and your new spouse may decide to share responsibility for monthly bills like rent, utilities, and groceries. This means that your expenses will likely be lower once you remarry than they were before you had this support. Consequently, you may be entitled to less in child support.

Contact a St. Charles Child Support Lawyer

Family law concerns like child support and spousal maintenance can often be complex. For help, contact a skilled Kane County family law attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a confidential consultation.

 

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IL child support lawyerMany people are struggling financially during these challenging times. If you are a parent with a child support obligation, you may sometimes have trouble making your payments. However, it is important to never simply stop making child support payments. Not only is child support nonpayment heavily penalized in Illinois, child support is also an important source of income for your child’s other parent. If you cannot afford your current child support obligation, it is possible that you may be eligible for a reduced payment through a child support modification.

Penalties for Child Support Nonpayment in Illinois

If you have been ordered by the court to pay a certain amount in child support every month, these payments are not optional. Child support orders are legally enforceable court orders. If you do not pay, you could face major administrative or even criminal penalties. You may be subject to:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Property liens
  • Tax refund interception
  • Driver’s license revocation

Because not paying child support is in violation of a court order, it is also possible that you could be held in contempt of court or even charged with a Class A misdemeanor criminal offense. If you are struggling to make your support payments on time and in full, simply stopping payments is never the answer. Instead, petition the court for relief through a child support modification request.

Requesting a Child Support Modification

The amount a parent pays in child support is based on both parents' net incomes. Payment amounts are designed to be fair and reasonable while still providing the child the financial support he or she needs. If you cannot afford your current child support obligation, you may be able to receive a reduced obligation through a child support modification. There are three main ways that a parent can be granted a child support modification:

  • You or the other parent have experienced a substantial change in circumstances. This change could be the loss of your job, a considerable reduction in your income, a considerable increase in the other parent’s income, or another major change.
  • The current child support order significantly deviates from the child support guidelines set forth by Illinois law and this deviation was not the court’s intention.
  • The current child support order does not account for the child’s healthcare needs.

If the reason you cannot pay your child support is that you were laid off at work or have experienced an income reduction, your child support obligation may go down. However, you will be expected to find suitable employment and show evidence of your attempts to do so.

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IL divorce lawyerThe USDA estimates that it costs over $230,000 to raise a child from birth until age 18. If you are expecting a child and you are not married to the child’s father, you may have concerns about how you will pay for child-related expenses like housing and child care. Child support is a valuable source of financial assistance that parents are entitled to by law. If you are an unmarried mother, it is essential that you take the steps to ensure that you and your child will have the financial resources you need.

How Can I Get Child Support in Illinois?

In Illinois, the terms “child custody” and “visitation” have been replaced by the terms “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” Parenting time refers to the days that a parent is responsible for caring for his or her child. The parent with the majority of the parenting time, formerly called the custodial parent, is the recipient of child support and the parent with less parenting time is the payor. If your child’s father and you agree that you should have the majority of the parenting time, you will create a parenting plan stating this agreement and describing other child-related arrangements. This plan is submitted to the court. You will then be able to petition the court for child support. The amount of child support that you will receive will largely depend on the difference between your income and the father’s income.

You Must Establish Paternity Before You Can Receive Child Support

You cannot petition the court for child support until you have established paternity. This means that you take steps to establish the child’s biological father as the child’s legal father. The simplest way to establish paternity is for both parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) at the hospital where the child is born. If the father denies his parentage or refuses to sign the VAP, the process becomes more complicated. In this case, one option is to pursue an administrative paternity order through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). DNA testing may be needed to establish the biological relationship between the father and the child. You may also be able to establish paternity through the court. The court will schedule a paternity hearing that both parents are expected to attend. If the father fails to attend the court hearing or administrative paternity hearing, he may be declared the father by default.

Contact a Kane County Child Support Lawyer

If you are a single parent, it is important to take the steps necessary to ensure that you receive the financial support you need. For help establishing paternity, petitioning the court for child support, resolving child custody disagreements, and much more, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced St. Charles family law attorney by calling our office at 630-584-5550 today.

 

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IL divorce lawyerAs the saying goes, the only thing constant in life is change. If you are a divorced or unmarried parent subject to a child support order, changes in your life or the life of the other parent may necessitate a child support modification. However, Illinois child support orders can only be modified under certain situations. Read on to learn about when child support orders are eligible for modification and what you should do if you need to request a child support adjustment.

Modifying an Existing Child Support Order Through a Modification Review

Child support orders established by a judicial proceeding may only be changed through a court order. Administrative child support orders may be modified through the Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). Every three years, child support orders are eligible for a “modification review” by the DCSS. If a parent wishes to take advantage of this opportunity, they will be asked to submit documents verifying their income. This information is used to determine whether or not the parents’ financial circumstances have changed significantly enough to warrant a child support modification. The dollar amount of child support payments may remain the same, increase, or decrease. If a parent disagrees with the results of the modification review, he or she has the right to request an administrative hearing or appear in court to contest the child support order.

Changing a Child Support Based on a “Substantial Change in Circumstances”

If you are not eligible for a modification review, you may still be able to change your child support order if the current order does not adequately provide for the child’s healthcare needs or if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.”

Examples of substantial changes in circumstances include but are not limited to:

  • The child’s financial needs have increased due to school or extracurricular expenses, medical issues, or another valid reason
  • Either parent’s income has considerably increased or decreased
  • Either parent has lost his or her job
  • The child has turned 18 and graduated from high school
  • There has been a change in the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities

Contact a St. Charles Child Support Modification Lawyer

Many parents find that they run into significant obstacles, complications, or delays when trying to modify a child support order. At Shaw Family Law, P.C, we help parents with a wide range of complex family law issues. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced Kane County child support attorney from our firm, call us at 630-584-5550 today.

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