Geneva family law attorneyA parent has a legal obligation to support his or her children. This is true even in the midst of a divorce. Depending on any the situation, a person may have an obligation to help support his or her (soon-to-be) ex-spouse as well. However, many people confuse the two obligations, when in reality child support and maintenance (also called alimony or spousal support) are very different, not least of all because the right to collect belongs to different parties.

Child Support

Child support is a right that belongs to a child, not their parents, though the actual payments may be received and administered by the child’s parent. It is defined as court-ordered payments usually made by the parent with fewer parental responsibilities or less parenting time to help support his or her children. In Illinois, the obligation to pay support exists, if ordered, until that child turns 18 years old. If the child is still attending high school at that age, however, the support obligation is extended until they either graduate or turn 19, whichever comes first.

Geneva family law attorneyThe Real Housewives of Orange County star Kelly Dodd recently announced that she plans to file for divorce from her husband. Kelly Dodd and Michael Dodd have been married eleven years but according to Kelly, the marriage was not always perfect. She explained to US Weekly that the marriage had its ups and downs. The star also said that while she and her husband were good friends that they are just too different to continue being married. The Dodds have an 11-year-old daughter together that they plan to co-parent.

Personality Differences Can Spell Trouble for Couples

Fame and celebrity status aside, the Dodd family is not unlike many families in the United States. Many couples get married and have children together only to later discover that cannot peacefully coexist with one another. Contradictory personalities, arguments, different priorities and goals in life, and other sources of conflict can drive a wedge between the spouse in a marriage. After trying and failing to solve the marital problems and despite their best intentions, many couples ultimately reach the decision to divorce.

Geneva family law attorneysDuring some divorce or parental responsibility proceedings, one or both spouses will resort to unethical tactics in order to get ahead. Accusing the other spouse of child abuse is a tactic that has become unfortunately more common in recent years, but it still does not happen as often as one might think. Still, if it happens to you, it is important to know how to defend yourself from false allegations of abuse.

“Reasonable Belief”

As one might imagine, child abuse allegations are taken extremely seriously. The number of children actually removed from their homes, however, has decreased in recent years. When abuse allegations are made, the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) is called in to do an investigation. This is not a criminal investigation, but it can easily become one. The important thing is to cooperate with the investigation—any resistance can be taken as a possible indication of guilt.

Kane County child support attorneysMost divorced parents think of child support ending when the child in question turns 18 years old. Usually, this is the case. However, there are several situations in which a court may order more, and one of those is when dealing with college expenses. Illinois law differs somewhat from many other states’ in that while married parents may decline to contribute to their children’s college expenses, unmarried parents may be ordered as part of a divorce agreement to contribute according to their income level.

Non-Minor Support

College expenses such as tuition, room and board, books and the like fall under a legal category Illinois calls non-minor support. It is also possible, but somewhat less common, that the court will hold some living expenses to fall into that category as well—costs such as bus or train passes and medical insurance. The key word in such determinations is “reasonable,” and the court has quite a bit of leeway in that regard.

Geneva family law attorneysAn order for child support is a binding judgment. If a parent who has been ordered to pay refuses to comply or otherwise claims an inability to do so that is not supported by facts, the recipient parent and the state can take steps to ensure the children are supported in the way they should be according to the law. It is often a laborious process, but once started, it is usually successful.

State Court Enforcement

Illinois has a specific law on the books known as the Non-Support Punishment Act (NSPA), which governs the proceedings that may face a parent who is significantly behind on child support payments without sufficient cause. The offense of failure to support is created by the act, which is either a Class A misdemeanor or a Class 4 felony, depending on the manner in which the noncustodial parent seeks to evade support. For example, a parent who attempts to leave the state to avoid support obligations may be charged with a Class 4 felony, while a parent who fails to pay outstanding support arrears for more than 6 months could face prosecution for a Class A misdemeanor.

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