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Wheaton Family Law AttorneyDivorcing spouses without children can walk away from the relationship after their divorce is complete. Even if they are subject to spousal support orders or other court orders, they are not forced to interact with each other the way divorcing spouses with children are forced to interact.

In a high-conflict divorce case involving children, parents are often unable to work together to raise children through a cooperative co-parenting relationship. Parallel parenting may offer an opportunity for high-conflict parents to reduce interaction and mitigate conflict while prioritizing their child’s best interests.

Restricting Communication to Reduce Conflict

Research shows that conflict between parents has a profound effect on children’s development and wellbeing. Being exposed to parental arguments increases a child’s risk of developing depression, anxiety, and behavioral issues. Studies have found that high-conflict homes can even lead to reduced cognitive performance. Parallel parenting seeks to reduce the conflict between divorcing or divorced parents by reducing the amount of interaction between the parents.

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DuPage County Parental Visitation LawyerIn Illinois, physical custody of a child is called “parenting time.” When a parent has concerns about a child’s safety with the other parent, he or she may ask the court to impose certain parenting time restrictions. For example, a parent may request that the other parent’s parenting time be supervised by a third party. This is sometimes called “supervised visitation.”

If your child’s other parent or another party is seeking to restrict your parenting time, contact a child custody lawyer for legal advice and support specific to your situation.

When Can the Court Limit a Parent’s Parenting Time?

Illinois law presumes that both parents are capable of providing a safe, loving environment for their children. The court only restricts parenting time if the court finds that unrestricted parenting time would “seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.”

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DuPage County Family Law AttorneyDivorced parents and parents who never married are often subject to child support orders. Child support is a method for splitting the cost of raising a child between parents who are no longer together and ensures that the child will receive financial support from both parents. In 2016, Illinois changed the way child support is calculated. The amount that a parent pays is now based on both parents' net incomes, not just the paying parent's net income. Lawmakers changed the child support calculation method in order to ensure that child support obligations are fair and reasonable, given both parents' financial circumstances.

Before the court can calculate child support, parents must disclose all forms of income to the court. Unfortunately, some parents fail to disclose the income they earned "under the table." How can parents get a fair child support order if a parent receives cash income and fails to disclose it?

Failure to Disclose All Forms of Income is Illegal

Illinois parents involved in a divorce or child support case are required to disclose details about their financial resources, assets, and debts. However, some parents falsify financial information with the hope of reducing their child support obligation or increasing the child support they receive from the other parent. Failing to disclose all forms of income is unethical and unlawful. The court expects honesty, and parents who lie about their income can face contempt of court charges.

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DuPage County Family Law AttorneyChildcare, medical expenses, afterschool tutoring, clothes, and groceries are just some of the many child-related expenses parents must manage. When a child is disabled, there are often additional expenses including specialized medical care and educational serves. If your child has an intellectual disability such as autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, fragile X syndrome, or down syndrome, you may be able to extend the length of time that you receive child support from your child’s other parent.

Understanding the Cost of Intellectual Disabilities  

Parents of children with disabilities often face a unique set of challenges both personally and financially. Raising neurotypical children is already expensive, but children with disabilities often require special medical care, therapy, educational services, and caregiving. The organization Autism Speaks estimates that the average lifetime cost of these services for a person with an intellectual disability is $1.4 to $2.4 million. Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and other programs may help mitigate costs, however, government assistance is often not enough to cover all of these expenses.

Child Support May Be Extended When a Child is Disabled

Typically, Illinois child support orders last until the child turns 18 years old, graduates high school, and becomes an adult. If the child attends college, the support may be extended through his or her undergraduate degree. Children without disabilities are expected to get a job and support themselves upon reaching adulthood. However, children with intellectual disabilities may not reach this same level of financial independence.

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DuPage County Parenting Time LawyerSupervised visitation is a step short of cutting off a person’s parental rights entirely. It is used when having some contact with the noncustodial parent is still in the child’s best interest, but leaving the child alone with that parent would put the child in some type of danger. In supervised visitation, the noncustodial parent still gets some parenting time, however, they will be supervised by a trusted third party at all times when their child is present. This solution is not used very frequently, but it is an option in some cases. If you believe that your child’s other parent cannot safely be left alone with your child, your lawyer may recommend asking the court to allow only supervised visitation. 

When is Supervised Visitation Used?

Under Illinois law, supervised visitation can be ordered when unsupervised “visitation would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.” The parent asking for supervised visitation must prove that the other parent would endanger the child in some way. It may be used if one parent is engaged in criminal activity, is abusive towards the child or other parent in any way, or has a serious mental illness or substance abuse problem. It can also be ordered if the other parent is in a romantic relationship with an individual who poses a risk of harm to the child. 

Simply having a criminal record does not suffice unless the nature of the crime suggests that the parent could be a danger to the child. Simply having a mental illness is not sufficient either unless it is severe and unmanaged. A hearing must be held and the judge will review the evidence before making a determination.

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