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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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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 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 social services, Illinois family law attorneyNon-custodial parents (also referred to as NCPs) face a number of challenges during big family transitions such as divorce. Whether you are in an unmarried partnership or are getting ready to go through a divorce or legal separation, if you share a child with someone, chances are you might run into some roadblocks as you navigate the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation).

Parenting Time

Parenting time (also known as visitation) is an important part of building and maintaining a healthy relationship with your child. As a part of the divorce process, it is very common for couples to disagree on lifestyle arrangements for their children. For example, disagreements can arise about everything from religious upbringing and school choices to which parent gets to spend time with the child and how often. Typically, parents work with an attorney, the state, and a mediator to put together a parenting plan, which establishes the groundwork for all these issues and creates guidelines for how the child will be brought up following the separation. This is especially helpful for the child, as it provides structure and encourages a safe, stable environment for them after their parents’ relationship ends. Never-married couples having trouble seeing their children also have options for managing their parenting time. The state’s Access and Visitation Program can help with mediation, counseling, enforcement of visitation orders, and much more.

Financial Struggles

It is not uncommon for newly single parents to struggle financially after a divorce or the end of a relationship. This can make it difficult to provide for yourself as a parent as well as continue to provide for your child and family. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) offers a variety of employment and training programs for non-custodial parents needing assistance in this area. Supervised job searches that utilize structured job search activities as well as something called the “Earnshare” program exist to support NCPs with resources and tools that can help them earn and provide for themselves and their children. Earnshare is a state sponsored program that offers paid on-the-job employment training and is typically referred by the Court and other administrative sources.

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Posted on in Child Support

Illinios child support laws, Illinois family law attorneyNavigating the world of divorce can be tricky, especially when you are attempting to understand your rights and working to ensure the children you share with your spouse are properly provided for after the separation. You have many tasks to sort out, including the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation).

While these factors are crucial to setting up the guidelines and boundaries for your family’s new lifestyle post-divorce, filing for child support is one of the most important processes you will encounter as you wade through the transition. Filing for child support allows you to secure and maintain consistent, dependable funds for your family’s care.

Here are some common concerns you might have as the custodial or non-custodial parent:

1. Where Does the Money Come from?

Illinois generally collects child support funds from the noncustodial parent’s employer. Pay is deducted directly via income withholding. The law allows the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to withhold a certain income dollar amount on a continual basis, including any dollar amount to account for past-due support, until it is paid in full.

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Illinois child custody attorney, Illinois family law attorneyAs of the of January 1, 2016, Illinois law refers to child custody as the allocation of parental responsibilities. The concept behind the term child custody still remains the same, however. Divorcing parents work together with the court and an attorney to create new lifestyle arrangements for their children and determine who is responsible for making what decisions for them. The agreements include everything from where the child will live, who they will live with, and how the child’s education, extracurricular activities, and religious practices will be managed.

Asking for Parental Responsibilities

The filing process for allocation of parental responsibilities will vary from county to county, but throughout Illinois you can expect to go through the following steps:

  • Obtain legal representation and file the petition;
  • Make an appointment for a case management conference (This must be done no later than 90 days after you file the petition); and
  • Serve the other parent the filed petition with a summons.

After you complete the initial first stages of the process, you await a response from the other parent. If they fail to respond, the next step is to ask the court for a default judgement.

Create a Parenting Plan That Suits Your Family’s Needs

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Posted on in Child Support

Illinios child support lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyFiling for child support can feel like just another task to pile on top of the already overwhelming divorce process. As a newly single parent, you face the challenges of caring for your children in the midst of the separation, and understandably, you want to make sure they continue to be provided for despite the changing circumstances.

Here are some common questions you might have as you begin to file for child support in Illinois:

How Can I Locate the Non-Custodial Parent?

For some divorcing parents, circumstances might arise that prevent you from knowing the whereabouts of the other parent. This can mean a lot of unease when it comes to seeking child support, but thankfully, locating the non-custodial parent is one of the services the state can offer you. They can also help confirm paternity, as well.

What Is a Typical Hearing Like?

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