child support, Illinois law, Geneva family law attorneyIf you are a divorced, separated, or unmarried parent, you may be aware that many of the laws regarding child custody and parental visitation have been changed in Illinois beginning this year. To the surprise of some around the state, however, the statutes regarding child support have yet to be updated. This means that the guidelines that have been in place for a number of years will remain in effect for the foreseeable future.

Who Pays Support?

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, either or both parents may be required to contribute toward the financial support of their child. These payments are intended to help provide for the child’s most basic needs, including shelter, food, clothing, and day-to-day needs. In practice, however, if you are a parent who has not been granted the majority of the parenting time with your child, you will likely be ordered to make support payments.

parenting, parenting plan, Geneva family lawyerWhen it becomes evident that you are headed for divorce, it is important to start planning for the process. You will need to have a good understanding of your current financial situation and what constitutes your ideal post-divorce scenario. Depending upon the circumstances of your relationship with your spouse, you may be able begin negotiating the terms of your divorce agreement. At first, of course, such discussions would need to be relatively informal, but you and your spouse can at least start talking about the future. The conversation is even more important if you have a child or children together, so that you can both better understand the role you are to play in your child’s upbringing.

Determine a Primary Residence

Among your first child-related concerns should be which parent will assume responsibility for a majority of the parenting time. This is an important consideration in determining where the child will attend school. The parent who does not have the majority of the parenting time will most likely be responsible for paying child support. Just because one of you has less parenting time than the other is not considered to be a reflection on your parental rights; rather it is more of a logistical determination.

child support, back payments, geneva family law attorneysIn today’s world, it is not uncommon for an unmarried couple to have a child together. In fact, many couples who are not married intentionally procreate, creating an effective, though not legally-protected family unit. When such a relationship ends, or if there was never much of relationship from the beginning, one parent—and often the parent with less parenting responsibilities—is generally required to make child support payments to assist with meeting the child’s basic needs.

Once an order for child support has been entered, every missed payment is logged by a state agency tasked with support enforcement. It is understandable, to a certain extent, that a supporting parent may occasionally have trouble meeting his or her obligations. Once in a while, though, you will hear a story in which back-payments of child support have gotten completely out of hand.

How Many Children?

child custody, coparenting, Geneva family law attorneyWe have all heard it a hundred times. Someone you know is going through a nasty divorce and, while they may spare you the details, it is often clear that your friend is determined to “win” at all costs. He or she feels wronged by the other spouse and may go to great lengths to get what feels like justice. In many cases, “winning” or “losing” is a financial or property value outcome, with the “winning” spouse getting a satisfactory share of the marital estate. For parents, however, the stakes are even higher, and in too many cases, children are used as leverage in the raging war between divorcing spouses. Thanks to recent updates to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, parents will be expected to adhere to a higher standard of cooperation and to remain invested in serving the child’s best interests, no matter what the relationship between the adults may be.

Allocated Parental Responsibilities

Whether we like to admit it or not, language is very powerful and the words we use can impact not only our message, but our psychological approach to the subject as well. Consider the idea of child custody. Under the existing law, legal custody is awarded as sole or joint custody, making each parent either a custodial parent or non-custodial parent. These titles can be extremely divisive, as a non-custodial parent, for example, may feel like he or she has been relegated to a second-class level of parenting.

pets, divorce, Geneva property division attorneyFor many people, pets are as much a part of the family as a child. When a marriage breaks up, it can be tough to decide which spouse the pet is going to live with. There are many emotional and practical factors that go into making such a decision, and courts are not always the best places to decide pet issues.

How the Law Views Pets

Even though pets are an important part of our lives, the law views pets as a type of personal property. Your beloved family dog or cat is the same as the family television or couch as far as the law is concerned. Technically, the pet can be assigned a dollar value and put into one spouse’s column on the property division worksheet. There are no explicit pet custody provisions in the law.

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