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IL divorce lawyerFor married couples, "proving paternity" is not much of a process and more of an assumption. For those who are not married, proving paternity can be a difficult legal situation. Some fathers do not want to be tied to their child to avoid parental and financial responsibilities. On the other hand, some mothers do not want their child’s father in their life and will avoid telling the biological father that the child is theirs. Regardless of the situation, proving paternity is important for multiple reasons. Not only should the child know for their own peace of mind, but there are also legal and health benefits. Legally, a child will receive financial support payments as well as social security or veterans’ benefits. A child should also know their father in order to know his medical history. Without this knowledge, it can be easy for a child to contract illnesses that could easily be avoided if they had both parents’ medical history.

How to Prove Paternity Voluntarily

Voluntarily proving paternity is best for both parents. You avoid keeping secrets and/or potential confrontation. The easiest way to do so is for the father to be present at the time of birth. This does require the signing of a declaration of paternity but it does not require any form of DNA testing. If the father is not present at the time of birth, an affidavit is required. This will need to be done before the birth certificate is issued in order for the father’s name to be present on the birth certificate. If his name on the birth certificate is not a concern of both parents, the affidavit deadline extends to anytime before the child’s eighteenth birthday.

How to Prove Paternity Involuntarily

If the father will not voluntarily sign the legal paperwork and you would like your child’s father to be legally recognized, it is crucial to have an experienced attorney who can help. The mother will first sign the affidavit naming the child’s alleged father then try and get in contact with the man. This can be done through investigation if necessary. It is worthwhile to first allow the father to voluntarily establish paternity in the case that he was uninformed about the situation initially. If he still refuses to voluntarily claim paternity, genetic testing is the next step. Both parents and the child will submit to genetic testing to ensure that all parties are linked. Once the results reveal who the father is, the father will be notified within 60 days of testing.

Contact a Kane County Parentage Lawyer for Help

Proving parentage is a stressful time for both parents, especially for cases that are involuntary. The legal process can be tedious and frustrating if you do not have experience in that area. It is important to have a hardworking attorney on your side to ensure that your child’s true parents are known. If you are trying to prove paternity or prove against an accusation that has been made, contact our experienced St. Charles, IL paternity attorneys for a free consultation at 630-584-5550.

 

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Posted on in Family Law

Illinois family lawyerMany grandparents and parents are familiar with the term “grandparents’ rights,” but do not fully understand it as a concept. It does not mean that grandparents automatically have the right to spend time with their grandchildren or seek custody of them by the virtue of being grandparents. What it means is that under certain specific circumstances, grandparents have the right to petition the court for visitation with their grandchild. Grandparents’ rights vary from state to state, but they exist in some form in every state. They are an important part of family law, the legal area that governs family relationships.

Circumstances Under Which Grandparents can Sue for Visitation with a Child

In Illinois, grandparents may file petitions for visitation with their grandchildren if an “unreasonable denial of visitation” has occurred. This could be in conjunction with a child’s parents’ divorce, the issuance of a parenting plan, or because there is a reason why the parent through whom the grandparent would access the child cannot facilitate their relationship. This could be because the child’s parent is incarcerated, deceased, legally incompetent, or has been reported as missing to law enforcement. Typically, it is easier for grandparents to be granted visitation rights when one of the child’s parents is unavailable to maintain their relationship with the child.

When both parents are present in a child’s life, a grandparent may seek visitation when the parents are separated, divorced, or in the process of divorcing if at least one of the parents does not object to the grandparent having visitation. If both object, the grandparent’s request is denied.

In order to have court-ordered visitation with a grandparent, a child must be at least one year old.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyerIn the wake of recent political upheavals, it is becoming common to encounter instances when family law questions and concerns acquire an immigration element. Many U.S. citizens hold dual citizenship or are married to foreign nationals. Their children may also be dual citizens. Given that many issues seem to be unsettled, in terms of the new administration’s policies, it is important to be able to react to ensure your family is protected.

Immigrant Status and Family Law

In theory, immigration law is meant to promote the idea of family unity, but in practice, U.S. immigration law can often separate families of different citizenship. Federal immigration law controls where it exists, but there are many loopholes most often filled by imperfect or inexact state laws that are applied unevenly. For example, a battered spouse may apply under immigration laws to obtain a U visa or status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), but it is state family courts and family law that govern domestic violence cases.

One does not necessarily have to prove citizenship in any country in order to avail oneself of the courts in Illinois; however, one must prove state residency to be able to dispute certain issues such as parenting time or spousal support. Without proof of state residency, Illinois courts have no jurisdiction to enforce orders regarding these issues. Marriage may also be a question, especially in the context of VAWA claims or allegations of fraud.

Divorce and Child Issues

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyerDomestic violence is one of the most common issues in divorces, especially when dealing with parenting time questions. Because it is so commonly discussed and dealt with, however, many persistent myths have appeared on the topic. If you do not have the right information when you need it, you run the risk of missing opportunities or information that could help you out of a difficult situation.

MYTH: Domestic violence laws in Illinois only apply to mistreatment between spouses. Fact: The Illinois Domestic Violence Act explicitly states that the laws do not only apply to abuse between spouses. 750 ILCS 60/103(6) prohibits any abuse being visited on “family” or “household members,” which casts the net much wider. Past jurisprudence has included ex-spouses, roommates, co-parents of a child who lives in the home (not necessarily married), and disabled people and their caregivers under this umbrella. Essentially, as long as one or both parties to the abuse can demonstrate a relationship to the home, the law will apply.

MYTH: Abuse, for the purposes of charging someone with domestic violence, must be of a physical nature. Fact: As long as it can be shown that one person seeks to harass or control another person and has caused tangible harm in doing so, abuse can be alleged. Physical abuse need not leave bruises - if it causes harm or the imminent threat of harm, it is abuse under the law. Abuse in this context may also be emotional or even financial - essentially any act that seeks power over another person may be held to be abusive if evidence of intent and harm are presented.

MYTH: If you are an abuse victim, there is no one who must help you besides the police. Fact: In each state, there are many people who have, in their professional capacity, a mandatory obligation to report any suspicion of domestic abuse. In Illinois, the mandatory reporting requirement falls on medical care practitioners - any person authorized by Illinois law to “offer health care in the ordinary course of business” must furnish a suspected victim with resources on where to turn. They are also immunized against most (if not all) Good Samaritan actions.

MYTH: If you do not leave your abusive spouse immediately, it will be held against you when you later contest parenting time and support issues. Fact: It is becoming more commonly known that leaving an abusive spouse is not always possible, especially if one has children. To leave an abusive partner, one requires money and time, and given the controlling nature of most abusers, this may be very difficult to obtain. Good faith is generally ascribed to victims of domestic abuse unless it becomes readily apparent that this is misguided.

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyFor both the custodial and noncustodial parent following a divorce or separation, understanding child support monetary arrangements is very important, as the arrangements affect both parties and the entire family, often for many years to come. From your personal financial standing and your ex-spouse’s paycheck to the everyday needs of your children, a child support order usually brings about significant financial changes for everyone involved.

How Long Does the Financial Obligation Remain in Effect?

In the state of Illinois, the lifespan of the financial assistance custodial parents receives child support depends on various factors. Generally, the state has some very clear guidelines that help clarify when child support officially ends. First, support is ordered until the youngest (or only) child reaches the age of eighteen or high school graduation, whichever last occurs, which is considered by Illinois law to be the legal age of emancipation. Second, the noncustodial parent may be required to make support payments for as long as it takes to pay off any past-due support. This means that even if the child reaches the age of emancipation, payments may still continue until all past-due support has been paid in full.

As the noncustodial parent ordered to pay support, when are you released from your duty? In short, each party's income, along with the number of children you have to support, will determine the amount you are required to pay, and you will be held responsible for those payments until your child is no longer a minor. An exception to this guideline is extended support, which may be ordered by the court in order to wait until the child graduates high school or turns nineteen. Any other exceptions or amendments must be clearly agreed upon in writing or addressed in the judicial order.

Additional Responsibility

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyThe American Psychological Association (APA) tells us that in the United States alone, more than 90 percent of people marry by the age of 50, but that 40 to 50 percent of couples end up divorcing. When it comes to subsequent marriages, the APA says the divorce rates are even higher, which tells us that although people continue to get married, certain troubles still tend to strain relationships and in many cases, inevitably cause marital demise.

Factors that Lead to Separation

While the causes for divorce are vast and diverse, there are certain trends in relationships that often result in separation, and ultimately, divorce. These trends all share common themes: Each one involves the breakdown of communication, intimacy, and trust. When combined, these factors turn into core conflicts and often result in the disintegration of a marriage. Among the many reasons for divorce, here are four of the most common:

1.Money management - Whether you have money troubles or not, the difference in how you and your spouse handle money can play a big role in your marital satisfaction. Many marriages end due to financial problems, and those problems do not necessarily always involve debt. For example, if you save a large portion of your income while your partner overspends, of if there is a significant difference in salaries, rifts can emerge that stem from tension and resentment.

2. Lack of contact - Physical intimacy, affection, and mere communication through texts and phone calls are all vital components to a successful, satisfying marriage. When there is a lack of intimacy, a decrease in basic expressions of affection, or no effort being made to reach out to one another, this lack of contact can erode the quality of the marriage over time. In some cases, it can cause the relationship to unravel quickly, depending on the other circumstances surrounding the problem.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyOver the years, an array of opinions has surfaced over the subject of legal separation before divorce. For most people, the term “separation” on its own sends off immediate warning signs that something must be wrong in the marriage. While the fact that separation clearly implies conflict in a marriage, the reality is legal separation is pursued by many different couples for various reasons, and the intent is not always to end the marriage. Many couples pursue legal separation with the hopes of saving the marriage and do succeed, eventually reconciling due to the time spent apart.

Motivations Behind Legal Separation

Others are simply unable to reconcile, however. In this case, the damage is done, the separation has only further clarified that the marriage is, in fact, over, and divorce naturally becomes the next step on the agenda. Most couples fall somewhere in the middle when they choose to legally separate. For example, married partners commonly separate because they are uncertain if divorce is the right choice for them and for their family, or they would like to try counseling and want time to attempt to repair the relationship before calling it quits.

Potential Benefits of Spending Time Apart

Whatever your personal circumstances, if you find that you are in a similar place, it may be worth it in your case to consider the benefits of legal separation before resorting to divorce. Here are three common reasons some couples opt for legal separation instead of divorce, and some points for you to consider as you weigh which option best suits your situation:

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyerThere is no greater dilemma for parents exploring the possibility of divorce than deciding whether or not to go through with the process for the sake of the children. There is much at stake where kids are concerned when deciding to end a marriage. Everything must be taken into account, including the immediate emotional and mental effects, to how the split will impact the children in the future, as the years go on.

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

The question of whether staying together is in the children’s best interests is a difficult one to answer, but one thing is certain: There are a number of diverse opinions on the matter, but ultimately only you, the parent, can decide if it is time to say when, or if it will work in everyone’s favor to remain a family unit despite the marital conflict.

Psychologists suggest examining the following as you explore whether divorce is the right decision for your family:

Consider the ways divorce would negatively affect your children.

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyerWhile it is not uncommon for the road to and through divorce to be a mutual, peaceful one, the reality remains that there is always that percentage of married couples who do not make it through the journey without multiple bumps in the road. Divorce is often plagued by conflict, tension, and problems reaching resolution on numerous matters, from everything to parenting time arrangements and the creation of a parenting plan, to the division of assets and child support payments.

Approaching Divorce as a Beginning, Not an End

Whatever your personal divorce circumstances look like, if you are on the verge of blending a new family dynamic together shortly after your split, then you are on deck for a whole new challenge entirely. Those pesky conflicts you faced throughout the divorce proceedings are no longer tied to the separation alone, but are now factors that will come into play with another issue: The task of beginning a new chapter with your newly blended family. Merging a new family means working with your former partner, addressing lingering hurt your children are experiencing from the previous marriage, and channeling your time and energy into building a healthy foundation with your new partner and their children.

Challenges You May Face as a New Stepparent

Some of the challenges a new stepparent may face are diverse. Here are some points of conflict you can expect to encounter if you are freshly divorced, or if your new partner has recently been through a split:

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois custody lawyerThere are countless aspects surrounding the divorce experience that parents are faced with when raising children throughout the separation process. Studies show that children are especially prone to the negative psychological effects that accompany the end of their parents’ marriage, due to the fact that they are still developing and learning to process - and cope with - rapidly changing emotions and circumstances. It is understandable, then, how something as anxiety-inducing as moving during or shortly after divorce can trigger a significant psychological struggle for children.

Moving and Divorce: A Psychological Toll

Recent divorce law changes in the state of Illinois now allow the primary residential parent to relocate with their child after divorce, as long as the move is made within a 25-mile radius. Because of this new guideline, that 25-mile radius can actually mean a jump over the state line, depending on which county you live in. Whether you are moving one neighborhood away or using up those permissible 25 miles, studies indicate that moving after divorce can be unsettling for children and can reap long-term psychological effects.

What Studies Suggest

The American Psychological Association (APA) reported studies that were conducted among students from an array of relocation scenarios, including subsets of students who experienced their primary (custodial) parent moving after divorce, and students who experienced no parental relocation at all. In general, the students of divorced families who relocated on some level were found to suffer more distress and perceive their parents in a less favorable light over the long term. Additionally, the students of divorced parents who relocated also experienced less life satisfaction and rated their physical and mental health poorly over time. They also felt more anger and hostility within their interpersonal relationships.

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Posted on in Child Support

Illinois family law attorney, Illinois child support lawyerBeing hit with the realization that you may be responsible for college expenses for your child on your own following your divorce can be an unsettling experience, especially when there are already so many other financial issues that must be addressed at the end of the marriage. Often, who will pay for your child’s college tuition is the very last thing on your mind in the midst of a separation. Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can properly prepare to fund your child’s college education after you are divorced, beginning with tackling the subject in your divorce decree.

Law Changes that Affect College Financial Responsibility after Divorce

Since 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has evolved to clarify which costs actually qualify as expenses in the state of Illinois, and how those expenses should be handled between divorce parties in a court of law. For example, the newer version of the law includes the cost of up to five college applications in its educational expense standards, and puts a stop to any contributions made to college expenses when the student turns twenty-three years old, with certain exceptions, which must be deemed “good cause”. This means if you are required to contribute to college costs for your non-minor child, the expenses will be justified and limited.

What You Can Do

To ensure your child’s college costs are taken care of once your divorce is finalized, the work ideally begins before you begin the divorce process. This means addressing the issue early on in the decree with a clear, written agreement that takes a number of factors into account, including who will pay for what and at what time, as well as who will pay for the pre-college expenses that are incurred. These things can include standardized test courses and any relevant purchases, like books or other class supplies. Sit down with your soon-to-be ex-spouse and make a list of everything you expect, along with any concerns you have about the arrangement.

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyWith the multiple issues that must be addressed during the divorce process, it is understandable that tackling the subject of your child’s future college expenses can feel overwhelming, especially when such educational concerns are not immediate. Preparing to fund an education set to take place in the very distant future may not be the first priority on your list while going through a divorce, but it is still an important task when it comes to securing the proper financial means for your child to expand their education down the road.

Who Is Responsible After the Split?

In many states across the nation, Illinois included, courts recognize a child’s need for a college education. This means the courts may have the right to order one or both parties in the divorce to pay for an array of college expenses for the child they share together. They may do this by tapping into the property and income of each parent, or even through the estate of a deceased parent. The law requires the petition for these funds to be raised within a certain timeframe.

Similar to awarding child support values, the amounts the court may order one (or both) of the parties to pay toward a child’s college expenses greatly depend on the circumstances, and the agreement must be negotiated. The court will take many factors into consideration before determining a certain amount. For example, at the time of the hearing, the party’s financial resources will be taken into account. The court may even look at a new spouse’s income. Say you remarry not long after your divorce and begin petitioning for financial help from your ex for your child’s college costs. If your new spouse makes a significant amount of money that raises your overall income considerably, the court may add that hike in income to the equation. So, the question of who is responsible for your child’s college costs will ultimately depend on a combination of these factors.

Which Expenses Count?

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyAs we work through the everyday bumps that come with navigating a relationship, it can be difficult to recognize whether the problems we face are typical roadblocks that every couple experiences - those that can be overcome with time and effort- or whether those problems are indicators of much larger issues that can lead to divorce. It is typically these larger, foundational conflicts that create greater risk for potential separation down the road.

Cold Feet or Something More?

According to the American Psychological Association, up to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, making it apparent that the odds don’t always end in every couple’s favor when it comes to marital longevity. Being able to recognize the signs that indicate trouble early on can go a long way in addressing and managing any existing or looming problems that may eventually lead to separation.

Here are four common predictors of divorce, according to the APA:

1. Cold Feet

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Illinois child support lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyFor many divorced parents, arranging a child support order can be a challenging process. While state programs and public assistance offer a reasonable amount of help, parents can often be at a disadvantage when it comes to obtaining an order and ensuring the payment conditions are met. This is especially the case for high-conflict couples who struggle with communication, anger, and hurt following their divorce. It can be difficult for the custodial parent to know where to turn as they pursue child support, especially when they are unfamiliar or confused about the laws that surround it, and the non-custodial parent can feel overwhelmed and unclear on the control and distribution of their funds.

When Are You Eligible to Request Modifications to an Existing Order?

Once you have done all the footwork and have secured a proper child support order, you may find you need to make changes to that existing order, depending on a number of different circumstances. The court usually looks at two factors in particular when determining whether or not your order is eligible for modification:

  • Non-custodial parent income changes - In most cases, you can request a modification review if the non-custodial parent’s income has significantly increased or decreased. The revised order can reflect the changes in income and any other financial factors that may have changed since the original order went into effect. In general, families who receive public assistance typically receive a modification review every three years. If the supporting parent has lost their job or received a substantial raise, their order may be decreased or increased; and
  • Availability of health insurance - Along with financial changes, health insurance changes will be considered when determining whether or not a child support order can be modified. For example, if there is a health insurance lapse due to a gap in employment or financial hardship, the court may consider these factors. Any change in medical coverage that will affect the child’s medical care should be addressed and reflected in the support order.

General Modification Procedures

The process for changing your child support order may vary depending on whether you are working directly through the Illinois child support program or with a private attorney. Your order may be changed via judicial process or administrative process. Generally speaking, the state will conduct a review and may apply a cost-of-living adjustment. To identify which orders are eligible for review, the state may also use automated methods that assess wage and state income tax data to determine any necessary adjustments.

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois custody lawyerAs divorcing spouses work through the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation) arrangements following their separation, there are a number of important areas parents must address in order to protect the best interests of the child. Everything from living and school arrangements to religious upbringing and financial agreements contribute to the production of a solid parenting plan that benefits the whole family.

To create custody and visitation plans that each party can agree on requires a significant amount of evaluation, however. According to Illinois law, the child’s best interests must first be considered to successfully identify which arrangements will work in the family’s favor. The court considers all the following factors when determining the child’s best interest:

Residential Circumstances

The distance between the parents’ houses, each parent’s daily schedule (as well as the child’s schedule), and the general logistics behind transporting the child to and from the parents’ homes are referred to as “residential circumstances” and are examined thoroughly when discussing the allocation of parental responsibilities.

Prior Agreements 

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyBreaking up is always hard to do, no matter what time of year it may be. New studies from the University of Washington have recently revealed trends that show seasonal patterns in divorce rates. While some spouses decide to call it quits from the moment they agree their marriage is over, others decide to hold out in the hopes that maybe, with a little more effort - or more time - the marriage can potentially be salvaged before it’s too late.

Here is a snapshot of some common divorce trends that revolve around specific times of year:

Holidays are a big factor.

According to the data compiled by the University of Washington between November 2001 and December 2015, there are significant dips in divorce filings around the holidays, indicating that there is a good chance most couples prefer to announce their separation after the holidays have passed. This may especially be the case when children are involved. Co-author of this UW study, Associate Professor of Sociology, Julie Brines, believes some couples may choose to wait until after the holidays to file due to high expectations, fueled by the hope that things will get better during the holiday season. No one likes to drop the bad news as the holidays are approaching, after all.

Couples wait until after summer vacation to file.

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Illinois adoption attorney, Illinois family law attorneySome hopeful parents plan to adopt for months, sometimes years, before they actually begin the official adoption process. The road to adoption is often a long and tedious one, but thoroughly rewarding and fulfilling for the individual who desires to be a parent and share their life with a child in need of a home.

If you are about to embark on the adoption journey or have already taken the first step, it is important to secure the right attorney, as you will need proper representation from start to finish to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process. Here are some things every parent should know when beginning their search for an adoption lawyer:

  • You have the right to choose your own attorney. If you are adopting a child under the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Families, Illinois law gives you the right to choose your own attorney. The same goes for adoptions through private agencies; you can select the lawyer of your choosing that you believe will be the best fit for your situation and your family;
  • You should research any applicable legal fees and costs. Under certain circumstances, the Department of Children and Families may pay for any associated legal fees and costs. For example, if your foster child is a ward of DCFS and will be receiving a subsidy, the DCFS can pay up to $1,500 for court costs and legal fees for each child adopted. Typically, you are personally responsible for attorney and court fees, so be sure to find out what you owe and what assistance (if any) is available to you; and
  • Each type of adoption requires special representation. Whether you are pursuing one through a private agency or the DCFS, each adoption presents its own unique circumstances, requiring special attention from a knowledgeable attorney. For example, co-parent adoptions, which typically involve same-sex couples and related adoptions, which include family members such as grandparents, all present different obstacles and will have different requirements, depending on the case. You need an attorney who is responsive to you and who is qualified in the specific area of adoption you plan to pursue.

Selecting the right legal representation, understanding what the process will cost you, and gaining a better understanding of the type of adoption you are pursuing are the initial steps you will you need to take to get the ball rolling. Speak with a skilled Kane County adoption attorney today. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C. at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

 

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Illinois child support attorney, Illinois family law attorneyIf you are a divorcing parent in the midst of arranging child support, chances are you are also juggling to manage other parent-child issues that come with separation, such as the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation). The child support you receive is important for the mere fact that it enables you to care for your children after the divorce, but it can also have an impact on your lifestyle with your children as a whole once the family transition is completed.

Receiving a just and reasonable amount of support can ease tension between you and your spouse, which can mean more peaceful interaction during custody and visitation exchanges. In general, the smoother the child support process goes, the better chance you have at experiencing a smoother transition all together. So, how does the state calculate child support amounts? Which factors are considered when determining those amounts?

Here is a basic breakdown of how child support amount is determined:

The decision first depends on the noncustodial parent’s net income plus the amount of children they are to support. Illinois statutory guidelines require the minimum net income, as follows:

  • One child - 20 percent;
  • Two children - 28 percent;
  • Three children - 32 percent;
  • Four children - 40 percent;
  • Five children - 45 percent; and
  • Six or more children - 50 percent.

The court also considers the best interest of the child as a whole, and in some cases, these factors can cause the percentages to deviate from the dictated guidelines above. For example, the court considers all of the following when setting the percentage amount:

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Illinois child custody laws, Illinois child custody attorneyDivorce and separation can be difficult on the entire family, especially when it comes time to address the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation), as these issues impact the lives of both parents and children. A new lifestyle is born, and new routines are put into place, forcing everyone to adjust and adapt to many big changes at once.

Unmarried Parents Versus Married Parents

One question that often plagues the mind of parents undergoing divorce is whether or not their rights are equal. The subject of father’s rights are particularly concerning, as many children end up residing with the mother after a divorce. Do fathers receive the same rights? Is their desire to participate in the lives of their children taken just as seriously as the mother’s needs and wants?

If the couple is not married, these questions are doubly important. When couples are married, most states automatically assume that the husband is the father of the child and is therefore entitled to certain rights. The same is not true for unmarried couples sharing children.

What Rights Can I Expect to Have as a Father or Mother Going through a Separation?

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Illinois child custody attorney, Illinois paternity lawyerWhether you are in an unmarried partnership, are in the midst of a divorce, or are planning to re-marry in the near future and share a child with someone else, paternity establishment is important. It ensures your rights as a parent are protected and that your child’s rights are protected as well. Without establishing paternity, your child’s medical and financial benefits might be at stake, and your parenting privileges can be compromised.

The state of Illinois utilizes various methods to help parents establish paternity, including personal interviews, genetic testing, and judicial court hearings, when necessary. However, you can opt to complete something called a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (also called a VAP) if you would like to establish paternity in a simple, straightforward manner. This is typically done right at the hospital when the child is born, although a VAP may be completed, signed, and witnessed at any time for any child born to unmarried parents.

VAP Requirements and Where to Get One

You will find instructions for how to complete the VAP on the front and back of the form, as well as a list of the parents’ rights and responsibilities. To properly complete the form, you will be required to provide information about both parents and the child, and you must also have a witness present to sign and date the form beneath the parents’ signatures. Your witness must be at least 18 years of age and will need to provide their full name, address, and telephone number. It is common practice for the hospital to provide you with a VAP when your child is born if you are not married at the time of the birth, but you can request one at any time at any County Clerk, Human Service, or Child Support Regional Office.

The Purpose of the VAP

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