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Illinois child support attorneysRaising a child takes financial resources, so when you are ordered to pay child support, is important that you fulfill your financial obligation. Unfortunately, life can get in the way. People get injured or laid off from their jobs. Health complications can make it difficult to maintain gainful employment. If any of these (or any other scenarios) apply to your situation, there may be options available to you. Learn more with help from the following information. 

Defaulting is Never an Option

Parents who fall behind on their child support payments sometimes avoid asking for help because they fear it will only increase their overall costs. Yet, if changes to their order for support are not made, the obligated parent may fall far enough behind on their payments to warrant disciplinary action from the state. Such consequences may include:

  • Jail time,
  • Cancellation of one’s driver’s license,
  • Cancellation of a professional license,
  • Wage garnishments,
  • Seizure of tax refunds,
  • Damage to one’s credit,
  • Property liens, and
  • Felony charges. 

All of these consequences can be avoided, so long as immediate action is taken when the parent can no longer meet their court-ordered obligation.

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Wheaton family law attorneysIt takes a great deal of money to raise a child, especially one with special needs. There are often added expenses for medical treatment, therapies, and perhaps even therapeutic or medical equipment. Thankfully, when parents are separated or divorced, these added expenses can be factored into an order for child support. Learn more, including how a seasoned family law attorney can improve the outcome of your case, in the following sections. 

How Child Support is Calculated in Illinois 

Illinois uses what is known as the “income shares” model to determine the amount of support a parent owes. The process starts with an economic table, supplied by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, to determine the cost of raising the child. 

That amount is then compared to the net income of each parent to determine what their obligation of support should be. The closer the receiving parent’s income is to the obligated paying parent, the less the support will generally be. The goal is to try and balance out the cost and ensure that neither parent is overly burdened by the cost of supporting the child. 

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DuPage County divorce lawyersChild support and alimony are often awarded to one of the spouses in a divorce, but not in every case. How do you determine if you may be eligible for these types of post-divorce support, and what can you do to ensure you receive the most amount possible? The following explains. 

Alimony Considerations in an Illinois Divorce 

Before a judge will award you alimony, you must be determined eligible, which generally requires that you be “disadvantaged” in some way. Examples of situations that may deem you “disadvantaged” in a divorce include:

  • A physical, mental, or emotional condition that prevents you from working;
  • A lack of education, skills, or recent work experience you need to obtain gainful employment;
  • Serving as a caregiver during your marriage (either to your children or your spouse); or
  • Supporting your spouse while they further their career or education (especially if it impacted you financially). 

If you are deemed eligible, a formula will be applied to your situation to determine your alimony entitlement and time-frame. The longer you were married, and the greater your spouse’s income, the greater your entitlement is likely to be in an Illinois divorce. 

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Illinois parentage lawyersAs a parent, you want the best for your child. To provide that, you need to ensure that their emotional and financial needs are met. In many cases, the establishment of paternity can help you in that quest - yet, this is not always the case. Learn more about the potential pros and cons of establishing paternity in Illinois, and discover how assistance from a seasoned family law attorney can help protect your child’s best interests, both now and long into the future. 

Understanding the Potential Benefits of Establishing Paternity

Regardless of whether you and your child’s father are currently involved in a relationship, your child deserves all that they have to offer. Sometimes, that involves you fostering a relationship between your child and their biological father. Other times, it means ensuring that your child’s financial needs are met - generally through financial support from the father. Unfortunately, many of the benefits that may be owed to you or your child (i.e. child support, military dependent benefits, health insurance, inheritances, and other similar benefits) can only be obtained if the biological father is legally named. For this to happen, you need to legally establish paternity, either through the hospital or through the courts. 

In the state of Illinois, there are three ways to do this: 

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Wheaton family law lawyersFamily law is a broad area of the law with many subsections. However, some issues are more common and complex than others. Learn more about the most common and currently emerging family law courts, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton attorneys can help you manage them and mitigate against any complications that you may be facing in your Illinois family law case. 

Divorce and Legal Separation 

Statistics indicate that the divorce rate has been dropping over the last several years, but it continues to be one of the more common family law matters, both in Illinois and nationwide. Legal separations, though less common than divorce and perhaps even some other family law issues, are also frequently seen issues in family courts.

Child-Related Matters

Child matters are also extremely common in family courts. They include:

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Illinois child support lawyersChild support is designed to ensure a child’s immediate financial needs are met, such as food and clothing for school. It can also go toward a child’s future, giving a parent the power to start up a college fund for the child. Sadly, statistics indicate that only 44 percent of all custodial parents receive the full amount of support that they are owed. 

One California woman had been just one of many who had not received child support after her divorce. Given custody of their daughter, the woman had been left to raise and financially support the child after her ex-husband skipped town and moved to Canada. From there, the man completely disappeared. Fifty years later, the courts awarded the woman a settlement of $150,000. That amount included the overdue support payments of $35,000, as well as penalty fees and interest for four decades of unpaid support. her experience proves it is never too late to pursue the overdue support you are owed. 

Pursuing Overdue Child Support in Illinois

Parents often feel as though they are alone in their pursuit of overdue child support. However, there are resources and services available to them. One of the most invaluable is the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). They have the power and ability to track down a delinquent parent. They can also impose penalties on the parent to encourage payment. Examples may include suspension of the delinquent parent’s driver’s license or professional license, imprisonment, or putting a “freeze” on the delinquent parent’s passport. 

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Wheaton paternity lawyersWhen a baby’s parents are married at the time of birth, both are presumed to be biologically related to the child, and each parent automatically reaps the benefits of parentage. Such is not the case when the baby’s parents are unwed at the time of birth. In this situation, the child’s biological tie to the mother is assumed, but their biological tie to the father must be legally established. 

Why go through this extra trouble, especially if you are living together and plan for it to remain that way? What if you are no longer together but have an amicable co-parenting relationship and a standing co-parenting agreement in place? Even in these situations (and others), the legal establishment of paternity is highly recommended. Learn more about the benefits of completing this process, and discover how a seasoned family law attorney can assist you while trying to navigate your way through it. 

How Paternity is Established in Illinois

In the state of Illinois, paternity is legally established in one of three ways: 

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Illinois child support attorneysIllinois law states that children have the right to emotional and financial support from both of its biological parents, and it protects those rights through different measures. Child support is one of the more commonly known and discussed, yet obligors are often confused about where their responsibility ends and begins. Moreover, they are not always informed of their rights, such as the right to request a modification if a significant change in circumstances occurs. 

When Can an Obligor Request a Modification to Child Support? 

When child support orders are established, the income of each biological parent is used in the calculations, as are the specific needs of the child (i.e. children with special needs, etc.). The time that each parent spends with the child may have been used as well, but such considerations have only recently become commonplace. If a substantial change has occurred in any of these areas - the income of the biological parents, the child’s needs, or the amount of time that each parent spends with the child - then either parent may request a modification to their order of support.

Since changes are meant to benefit the child, not the parents, some modifications could result in an increase in a non-custodial parent’s child support obligation. For example, if a child needs braces, the receiving parent may petition the courts to obtain additional support from the obligor. 

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Illinois family law attorneysWhen parents go through a divorce, they must determine how to divide the cost and responsibilities associated with raising their child(ren). Child support is sometimes awarded to the parent with the most time with the child, but even still, there may be added expenses not covered by the supporting parent’s legal child support obligation. Learn how you can determine who should cover child-related expenses after your Illinois divorce, and discover how a seasoned family law attorney can assist you with the entire process. 

Child Support in Illinois - Understanding the Obligation 

Under state law, children have the right to receive emotional and financial support from both of their parents. Child support helps to ensure that financial need is met. However, not all parents are obligated to pay. Instead, the state uses the income of both parents, the average cost of raising a child, and the amount of parenting time awarded to each parent in order to determine how much support (if any) is owed. 

Extra expenses, such as healthcare costs, fees for extracurricular activities, and special equipment for a special needs’ child may be added in when calculating the amount of support that is owed, but parents do not always request to have them added. There may also be other child-related expenses that are not considered to be a part of the calculation. For example, parents may verbally agree to split the cost of back-to-school clothing and supplies, but this agreement may not be included in the divorce decree or child support order. College savings may not be included in the calculation either (even if there is an existing account that must be divided between the married parties), so parents may have to come to an agreement outside of court to ensure their child has the money they need to complete their education. 

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Illinois child support enforcement lawyersChildren are entitled to emotional and financial support from both parents. When the parents do not live together, financial support typically comes through the payment of child support - but what happens when the paying parent refuses to comply with an order for support? The following information explains how you can enforce delinquent child support payments with the help of a seasoned family law attorney. 

Establishing Proof of Unpaid Support

Before a receiving parent can enforce an order for support, they must first provide proof that the support has gone unpaid. If the payments are made through the Illinois State Disbursement Unit (SDU), the receiving parent can ask the SDU for a record of payments that have been made along with the amount that the paying parent still owes. It is important that receiving parents compare their own records to those of the SDU, however, as they are not always accurate. If payments are made through the circuit clerk’s office, the parent can ask the office for this same information. (Again, it is important to compare records.) Parents who receive payments directly may experience more difficulty in obtaining proof of unpaid payments, as they are the only ones who have a record of the payments made. Thankfully, an attorney can help you with the process. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersWhen one party is severely disadvantaged in a broken marriage, it can feel like an excuse to stay. Yet, unbeknownst to some, it is not necessary to do this. Instead, it may be possible for a party to obtain child support and/or alimony before a divorce has been completely finalized. Learn more in the following sections, including how to go about the process, and discover how a seasoned divorce attorney can assist and improve the outcome of your case. 

Are You Eligible for Alimony or Child Support?

Not all parties are eligible for alimony or child support in a divorce. In fact, alimony is becoming less common in divorce, and some recent changes to Illinois’ child support laws have created situations in which neither parent pays support (i.e. parents have near equal income and near equal parenting time). However, if you are disadvantaged in your marriage - perhaps because of a health condition or because you stayed home to raise your children - you may be eligible for alimony, child support, or perhaps even both.

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Illinois child support lawyersUnder Illinois state law, children are entitled to financial support from both their biological parents, regardless of whether the parents were ever married. However, that support is not unlimited. Instead, the state has a specific formula that is used to determine what a paying parent’s support obligation should be. Learn more about the way that child support is calculated, and discover how to determine when the aid of an experienced attorney may be beneficial for parents who are engaged in an Illinois child support case.

Is Child Support Owed?

Before an order for child support can be entered, the courts must first determine if support is owed. This starts with establishing parenthood over the child. In a marriage, this is presumed for both the mother and the father. If the parents were never married, the mother is usually presumed to be one biological parent, but the father must either acknowledge paternity, or they must request a paternity test to verify that they are the child’s biological parent. From there, the courts will examine other factors, such as the income of both parents and the amount of time that each parent spends with the child, to determine the amount of support that may be owed.

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Illinois child support lawyersParents who receive child support often rely on it to ensure their child’s needs are met. What happens, though, if the paying parent falls behind or refuses to make their payments? Besides placing a financial strain on the receiving parent, and potentially the child as well, the paying parent then becomes delinquent on their support. If that support is paid under an existing order with the courts, the receiving parent also has recourse for pursuing their overdue support. Learn more, including when the assistance of an experienced family law attorney may be necessary.

Determining How Much Support is Owed

Before pursuing overdue child support, a receiving parent is encouraged to first determine how much support is owed. If the payments are made through the State Disbursement Unit (SDU), the parent can request payment records directly from SDU. Parents who receive their payments directly through the courts can request such records from the circuit clerk. If payments are made directly to the receiving parent, they must bear the burden of proof in court, meaning they must supply the court with evidence that proves the child support payments were never made.

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Illinois child support enforcement lawyersWhile most parents will go to considerable lengths to ensure their child has everything they need, there are those who seem to think of their financial obligations as voluntary. Maybe they simply want to punish the parent who receives support and does not care that it is also harming the child, or perhaps they consider their wants more important. Either way, the failure to pay court-ordered child support can have dire consequences, both for the receiving parent and the child. Thankfully, there are some strategies that you can employ to collect your arrears. Learn more, including how an experienced attorney can assist, with help from the following information.

Garnishments and Property Liens

When an obligated parent has the funds or assets to pay their arrears but refuses to do so, receiving parents can seek a wage garnishment or a lien on any property that the obligor owns. If the parent does not have any wages and is collecting unemployment, the receiving parent may request that child support be withheld from their unemployment benefits. One can also attempt to have the obligor’s tax refund intercepted if they owe arrears. Alternatively, if the parent does not have any real property but has a substantial amount in their retirement benefits, the receiving parent may seek an order to have the funds pulled from the retirement account with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

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DuPage County divorce attorneys, unallocated child supportChild support and spousal maintenance are two of many considerations in an Illinois divorce, and the financial obligations included in a final decree will vary based upon the unique circumstances of the parties involved. When a divorcing couple can agree to certain support issues, there are tax benefits that the couple can take advantage of by structuring payments in a certain way. An arrangement termed “unallocated” child support is attractive to both parties. Speak with an Illinois divorce attorney with experience in tax matters to see if it is an option for you.

Default Rules on Spousal and Child Support

Spousal support, commonly termed alimony, is paid by the spouse in a higher income bracket to the individual with a lower income; the intent behind spousal support is to ensure that person enjoys a similar lifestyle after the divorce as compared to when the couple shared a household. Under federal law, the payor spouse can deduct alimony payments when filing individual income tax returns. However, child support falls under a different set of tax laws and is not deductible from the payor parent’s income taxes.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, child supportParents must stick to a court’s order on child support—an order which is intended to cover the costs of basic necessities. However, there is more to a child’s life than food, shelter, and clothing.

Under Illinois law, a judge has the discretion to include additional expenditures in the amount of child support if doing so is in the child’s best interests and is equitable between the parents. Not all costs will qualify for an additional financial stipend above and beyond the basic obligations, so discuss your options with a knowledgeable child support attorney.

Qualifying Expenses

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DuPage County child support attorneys, enforcing child support ordersA court will enter a child support order as part of the divorce process in Illinois, but it is important for both parents to understand how the law provides for enforcement of payment provisions. There are a number of protections in place intended to ensure that financial support never becomes a problem for a parent caring for a minor child. Moreover, there may be harsh consequences for someone who tries to shirk his or her responsibilities.

An Illinois child support lawyer can help you understand your rights and assist in enforcement efforts. Consult with a legal professional if you are facing challenges in dealing with your ex-spouse.

Illinois Income Withholding for Support Act 

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Illinois Record Child Support Ruling SettledA child support case where a Cook County judge ruled that a woman was due $2.3 million from her ex-husband and his employer was recently settled out of court with a settlement listed to be $299,000. This case centers around Scott Bos, the father of the children, and his employer at Country Chevrolet where he was a finance manager. Bos was supposed to pay child support to his ex-wife Lisa Watson and Country Chevrolet was supposed to withhold those payments from his paycheck as per a court order that was entered. However, Country Chevrolet refused to withhold the payments from Bos’ checks and argued that he was an independent contractor instead of an employee and therefore they could not withhold the money. The judge disagreed and sided with Watson finding that Country Chevrolet had a duty to withhold the money from Bos’ check.

How Did the Amount Get So High?

It is important to note that the main defendant was Country Chevrolet and they were responsible for the vast majority of the money awarded to Watson. In 2002 Watson and Bos

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NOTE: As of July 2017, the law governing child support in Illinois has changed. Please see our Child Support page for more information.

Child Support for a Child With DisabilitiesIf you are ordered by the Illinois court to pay child support, generally that support obligation will end at age 18 or as long as the child is still in high school. However, when a child is disabled then a parent who pays child support may be obligated to pay child support even after the child reaches adulthood.

Child Support Rules Generally

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Posted on in Divorce

Parenting Time and Taxes, DuPage County family law lawyersIf you are considering or in the process of divorce and there are kids involved, you also need to think about the tax consequences of different options regarding maintenance, child support and parenting time. To be sure, there exist some important tax considerations that may apply to divorced or divorcing parents and their children.

Filing Status

The first tax consideration to think about is your filing status. As you probably know you file your taxes during the April after the previous tax year. The key time and date to look at is December 31 at 11:59pm. If you were married at that date and time during the previous year then you need to file either “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.” If you were divorced by then, then you can file “single” or “head of household.” You are still married until the judge issues the divorce decree. This is an important consideration and you may want to plan the date of your divorce with this in mind.

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