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DuPage County divorce attorney child support

Most people in today’s world would agree that raising a child is the job of both parents, rather than just one. However, when the parents are not together because of divorce or another reason, raising a child can become complicated, especially as it relates to the financial side of things. Raising a child is not cheap. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), parents spend, on average, approximately $233,610 to raise each child through age 17. Even though the living arrangements likely place the child with one parent for the majority of the time, the other parent will still be required to financially contribute to the child’s upbringing through child support payments.

Child Expenses That Should Be Included

The monthly child support payments are calculated in the same way for everyone, by using a standardized formula set forth in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). The formula takes into account certain factors from both parents, such as income and the amount of parenting time each parent has and produces an amount that is usually paid by the parent with the least amount of parenting time to the parent with the most parenting time. Child support is intended to be used for the majority of the child’s needs, such as food and clothing, but there are other expenses that come up that your child’s other parent is also responsible for helping with, such as the following:

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Naperville divorce attorney spousal support

There are dozens of things that you and your spouse will have to agree upon before you can finalize your divorce agreement. Some of the most contentious issues throughout many divorces are those dealing with two notorious topics -- finances and children. Things such as property division and child custody have the potential to turn a mildly agreeable divorce into one that is fueled by strong emotions, rather than reason. Even after you have come to a consensus, nothing is set in stone. Under certain circumstances, you may need to petition the court to modify your divorce agreement. One of the most common reasons for doing this is a remarriage by either spouse.

Remarriage and Child Custody

When it comes to child custody issues, such as parenting time and parental responsibilities, the remarriage of either parent can create the potential need to change the parenting time order or child support order. In nearly all cases, the child support order will likely never be terminated, but there is a possibility that the monthly amount could change. In Illinois, all child-related decisions are made using the child’s best interests. This means in a remarriage scenario, the actions taken are very situational depending on the family’s circumstances.

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Naperville child support attorney

In divorce cases that involve children in Illinois, one of the issues that must be addressed is child support. In Illinois, the financial duty of raising a child is not the responsibility of solely the custodial parent -- both parents have a legal obligation to financially provide for their children. Typically, the parent with the least amount of parenting time will pay the other parent support each month until the child’s 18th birthday or until they graduate from high school, whichever comes later. The amount of child support that each parent is responsible for is determined by using a formula that takes into account both parents’ incomes and parenting time shares. Over time, the factors used in that equation or your life circumstances may change and the amount of child support currently being paid may no longer be sufficient. Fortunately, it is possible to modify your support order in Illinois.

Common Significant Changes in Circumstances

There are only three reasons why a child support order is permitted to be modified: Either parent can demonstrate that there has been a significant change in circumstances, the support order has been found to deviate from the support guidelines, or the child’s healthcare needs have changed. The most common reason, however, for child support modifications tends to be significant changes in circumstances. Some of the most common changes can include:

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Will County divorce attorney child support

A common concern that parents have when they get divorced (or separate from one another if they were never married) is whether or not they will each be able to financially support their child, now that the other’s finances are no longer in the picture. Both parents are obligated to provide financial support for their child, even if they share custody of the child, which is where child support comes into play. A child support amount can be agreed upon by the parents, but the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) puts forth guidelines as to the minimum calculations for the support that each child is entitled to. It is important for you to understand how these calculations work, especially if you are getting a divorce in Illinois and you and your spouse have children together.

Finding Your Basic Support Obligation

First, your attorney will perform the calculations necessary to figure out how much the basic support obligation is for your child every month. The IMDMA states that this is determined by taking both you and the other parent’s monthly net income and adding them together. Once you have the sum of both of your monthly net incomes, you can then find the corresponding row with your income and the corresponding column with the number of children you have on the income shares schedule provided by Illinois Child Support Services. For example, two parents who have a monthly net income of $8,400 with two children would have a monthly support obligation of $1,950. 

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DuPage County divorce attorney spousal maintenance

When you are in the midst of a divorce, it can start to feel overwhelming, like there is no end in sight. Divorce negotiations can be unpredictable, leaving you with much to wonder about, including what your life will be like after your divorce is over. There are so many questions that you likely have on your mind -- where you will be living, if you have to sell your home, and whether or not you will have enough income to support yourself and your children if you are a parent. Regardless if you are a stay-at-home parent or you work outside of the home, many people have financial worries when they go to get a divorce. 

Financial Considerations

The best way to ensure you are in good financial standing after your divorce is to take the proper steps to protect your financial health during your divorce. Here are a few ways you can be proactive in preparing your finances for post-divorce life:

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Will County divorce lawyer child support

When you and your spouse get a divorce, there are many issues that must be covered before the case can be finalized and closed. When you have children, that list grows even longer and includes matters such as determining a parenting time schedule, allocating decision-making responsibilities, and determining child support payments. Raising a child is expensive and both parents have an obligation to financially provide for their child, which is where child support comes in. Child support is typically paid by the parent with the minority of parenting time to the parent with the majority of parenting time until the child has turned 18 or until the child has graduated from high school, whichever comes later.

Reasons for Modification

The basic child support obligation, or minimum required amount to be paid each month, is calculated using a formula that takes into consideration the incomes of both parents at the time of the divorce, in addition to the amount of parenting time they have and several other factors. This support obligation is used to help cover basic living costs for the child, such as food, clothing, and housing. However, the variables that were present at the time the child support order was put into place are not constant and will typically change over the years. To accommodate these changes, the state of Illinois allows parents to request modifications to the support order if a “substantial change in circumstances” has occurred, which could include any of the following conditions:

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Bolingbrook divorce attorney legal separation

When a couple is having problems with their marriage, sometimes the decision to divorce is clear-cut. However, many couples are not ready to take the irreversible action of ending the marriage, and instead, wish to spend time apart while they contemplate their next step. For these couples, or for those spouses who wish to avoid divorce because of cultural beliefs or health insurance benefits, a legal separation may be a good option. If you do choose to pursue it, you should understand exactly what legal separation entails and how it differs from a complete dissolution of the marriage according to Illinois law.

What Happens in an Illinois Legal Separation?

For you and your spouse to be considered legally separated, you must be living in separate locations, and one of you must file a Petition for Legal Separation with your county’s Circuit Court. If your separation is approved, you should consider the following legal implications:

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Joliet Courthouse divorce attorney child support order

Divorce agreements are made with the intention that they will last forever. While this may be the case for those who get divorced and do not have any children or alimony requirements, divorce agreements rarely last the test of time. When children or monthly support payments are involved, things never remain the same over time. Luckily, the Illinois court system addresses this possibility within their divorce legislation. In order for modifications to be made to your agreement, you must meet the criteria outlined below.

Spousal Maintenance

The purpose of spousal maintenance is to even the financial divide between both spouses and provide the lower-earning spouse with financial assistance. The terms of these payments vary for each divorce agreement. Some may be expected to provide this support indefinitely while others have a specified timeline. Divorced couples always have the ability to revisit their agreement, especially if they feel that the spousal maintenance requirements are unnecessary or unfair. 

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Joliet Courthouse child support attorney

When it comes to modifying child support obligations in Illinois, a court must answer one basic question: Has there been a “substantial change in circumstances” justifying a departure from the original award of child support? What qualifies as a “substantial change” will depend on the facts of a given case. But one thing to keep in mind is that if a change was anticipated or expected at the time of the parents’ divorce, that alone will not guarantee that a court will increase or reduce a non-custodial parent’s support obligations. Below is a recent court case that involves parenting time and a request for a child support modification in Illinois.

Court: Will County Father Not Entitled to Reduce Support  

A Will County case from earlier this year, In re Marriage of Connelly, helps to illustrate what Illinois judges look at when considering a request to modify support. The parents in this case divorced in 2015. Under a joint parenting agreement (JPA) approved by both sides, the mother became the residential parent, with the father receiving certain visitation or parenting time rights. A subsequent marital settlement agreement (MSA) required the father to pay 28 percent of his income as child support.

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Naperville child support attorney

Child support obligations do not always end when a minor turns 18. In Illinois, the law also provides for non-minor support obligations. Specifically, a parent may be required to make certain “contributions” toward their adult child’s college expenses. Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act authorizes a judge to make such orders. Unless the parents agree otherwise, the court will not order parents to support their child’s education past their 23rd birthday. (In exceptional circumstances, this may be extended to the child’s 25th birthday.) In this context, educational expenses include not only tuition but also housing, medical, and other “reasonable” living expenses. That said, a parent is not obligated to pay the full cost of an out-of-state private school. Illinois law caps a parent’s total obligations based on the current in-state tuition and room and board rates used by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Contributions to College Savings Plans Do Not Reduce Obligations 

A recent decision from the Illinois Second District Appellate Court, In re Marriage of Wilhelmsen, illustrates how Section 513 of the IMDMA can be applied in practice. This case involved the parents of three children. The parents divorced in 2013. At the time of divorce, the parents entered into a marital settlement agreement (MSA), which was approved by the court as part of the final decree. Under the MSA, both parents agreed to share their children’s college expenses under Section 513. Separately, the father agreed that he would pay approximately $79,000 in back-owed support to all three children’s college savings (Section 529) plans.

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