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Kane County child support modification attorneyAs this year draws to a close, Illinois residents and people throughout the world are no doubt looking forward to a healthier and happier new year. The coronavirus pandemic changed our way of life in 2020, and we all did our best to adjust to a “new normal.” In a concerted effort to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus, federal, state, and local officials issued orders to limit in-person gatherings and require that face masks be worn indoors. Many non-essential Illinois businesses were closed, and those that were allowed to stay open have reduced their staff and hours of operation. As a result, numerous individuals lost their jobs and filed for unemployment over the past nine months. This economic downturn has led some parents who are divorced or who were never married to worry about how they are going to pay their bills, including meeting their child support obligations.

Illinois Child Support Laws

There are many issues that need to be addressed in a divorce when children are involved, and unmarried parents may also need to consider these matters when they break up. If a couple cannot come to an agreement on certain matters, the court becomes involved. A judge will make decisions based on what is in the best interests of the children. Under Illinois law, child support orders are based on a formula that includes both parents’ net incomes. This is referred to as the Income Shares model, and it is meant to ensure that both parents contribute toward the costs of raising their children. 

Circumstances That Warrant a Child Support Order Modification

Once a child support order is issued in an Illinois divorce or child custody case, the payment amount may be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if a parent’s earning ability or a child’s financial needs have changed, that could be reason to request a modification. 

Geneva divorce attorney for parenting plansA divorce can be one of the most stressful experiences of your life, regardless of whether you were married for a few years or a few decades. When you and your spouse have children together, adapting to life after the marriage ends can be very difficult. You will have to learn how to co-parent your children, even if you do not see eye-to-eye on everything. However, the most important thing to remember in a high-conflict divorce is to keep your children’s best interests in mind. “Parallel parenting” is an arrangement in which divorced spouses can co-parent by disengaging from each other, with limited direct contact, while remaining fully connected to their children. This version of co-parenting can be appropriate for ex-spouses who are unable to communicate with each other in a healthy or civil manner. 

Co-Parenting With Your Children’s Best Interests in Mind

One of the obstacles that divorced parents often face is determining how to resolve disputes over child-related issues, such as the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation). In some cases, parents can agree who will be granted the majority of the decision-making authority, including decisions regarding medical care, education, and religious upbringing. If they cannot reach a mutual arrangement, then the court will decide for them based on factors that affect the children’s best interests. For example, one parent may assume the decision-making responsibility for medical decisions, while the other parent handles anything related to educational goals. While both parents may agree on major decisions regarding their children’s upbringing, they may separately decide the logistics of day-to-day parenting when the children are in each parent’s care. That means each household might have a different set of rules related to discipline or other issues.

With parallel parenting, the ex-spouses typically only communicate through written means, such as email or text messages. That means there is limited in-person contact, face-to-face interaction such as video calls, or even phone conversations. This type of co-parenting can be especially helpful for high-conflict divorces in which the former partners do not get along and are prone to arguing. By using this method, you and your ex can work out the details of where children will stay on certain holidays via electronic means instead of getting into a heated dispute in front of the kids. 

Kane County divorce attorney for parental alienationThe decision to end a marriage can be difficult for many reasons. In many cases, spouses may be unhappy for a long time but hesitant to end the relationship if they have a family. Studies show that the stress of a divorce can significantly impact a couple’s children. This can manifest itself in various ways, such as manipulative behavior by one or both parents. The concept of parental alienation syndrome (PAS) was first introduced by psychiatrist Richard Gardner in the 1980s. This typically occurs during or after a divorce when one parent psychologically manipulates a child into exhibiting unwarranted fear, disrespect, or hostility toward the other parent. In some cases, the manipulative parent’s ultimate goal is that the child will reject the other parent and want nothing to do with him or her. After your divorce, it is important to recognize signals that indicate PAS might be occurring to protect your child’s well-being as well as your rights to custody and parenting time.

Symptoms of Psychological Abuse

It may be natural for a child to exhibit some hostility or sadness when his or her parents split up, regardless of the child’s age. However, parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse that can have devastating effects on a child as well as the parent who is being alienated. Some of the signs and symptoms that a child may be subjected to this include the following behaviors: 

  • Poor self-esteem
  • Angry outbursts toward the targeted parent and other family members
  • Inconsistent sleep patterns 
  • Eating disorders
  • Problems in school (academic or behavioral)

Manipulative Behaviors 

When a parent is actively trying to make his or her child “take sides” in a divorce, he or she may do certain things to accomplish this objective. Below are a few examples of what a parent might do to instill negative thoughts or feelings about his or her ex in a child’s mind:

Geneva child relocation lawyerThere is no question that after a divorce, the lives of the spouses and their children will change significantly. Additional changes may occur in the years to come, and there may be a time when one parent decides to move to a new location that is a significant distance away from the other parent. However, there are restrictions on how a custodial parent may proceed in cases involving parental relocation, and the well-being of a child and the rights of the other parent must be protected. 

Illinois Parental Relocation Laws

While Illinois law no longer uses the term “custody,” the parent with the majority of the parenting time is often referred to as the custodial parent. If this parent decides to move to a new home, may need to seek the approval of the court, and the other parent may argue against the move if it affects their parenting time with a child. 

A parent living in Kane County can only move up to 25 miles from the current living situation without approval from the court. The same goes for Cook, Lake, Dupage, Will, and McHenry Counties. For all other counties in Illinois, a parent may move up to 50 miles away within the state. Interstate moves require approval if they are more than 25 miles from the current home. 

Kane County family law attorneysWhen you are responsible for making child support payments, virtually every financial decision you make can affect your ability to meet your obligations. This is especially true if you are considering a job or a career change, as your income is very likely to change. While an increase in your income can be a good thing, a decrease could make it impossible for you to comply with your child support requirements. You may be able to petition the court for an order modification, but depending upon the circumstances of your employment, your request could be denied.

Illinois Law

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, an order for child support may be amended upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. Losing a job, starting a new one, a significant promotion or demotion, and a complete career change could all create a significant difference in your monthly and annual income. The law recognizes a change in employment status as one of the possible causes for a substantial change in circumstances for the purposes of pursuing an order modification.

Good Faith

Everyone has made choices in their lives that have had a negative outcome, despite being made for the right reasons. Your intentions are an extremely important consideration when seeking a child support order modification, particularly if your income has decreased. If you simply walked away from a steady job with no current, realistic prospects, you are not likely to be granted relief. Similarly, if you were dismissed from your job for inappropriate or destructive behavior, or lack of production due to your own fault, your support obligation will probably not be reduced.

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