Category Archives: Family Law

IL divorce lawyerChild support is a crucial financial tool for custodial parents and, of course, their children. In fact, full or partial child support payments account for 16 percent of custodial mothers’ total yearly income, and nine percent for custodial fathers. Sadly, a large percentage of non-custodial parents refuse to comply with their court orders, and either fail to pay on time or simply refuse to pay outright. Less than half (45.6 percent) of custodial parents receive full child support payments. Custodial parents were owed $10.4 billion in deficient payment in 2013 alone.

Many parents are owed tens of thousands of dollars from years of missed payments, which only makes things harder on the non-custodial parent’s own child or children. Collecting overdue child support payments is difficult enough when the parent lives in the same state as the custodial parent. It is even more complicated when the non-custodial parent moves out of state. It can seem impossible to enforce payments when the parent leaves the country. However, an attorney may be able to help you.

Utilizing the Office of Child Support Enforcement Is Key to Child Support Success

The Office of Child Support Enforcement works with foreign countries to enforce child support payments from non-paying parents who have skipped out on their financial obligations. Countries that have joined the Hague Child Support Convention (of which there are 31 countries) or Foreign reciprocating countries (FRCs) cooperate with the U.S. Department of State to hold non-paying parents accountable.

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IL family lawyerCourt-ordered visitation time is just that—court-ordered. As such, a custodial parent is violating the law by denying you visitation with your child, or by reducing the time that you spend with your child by dropping them off late or insisting that you have them home earlier than the parenting plan mandates. This interference damages the bond between non-custodial parents and their children, creates conflict between the parents that the child will inevitably pick up on and blame themselves for causing, and is a common tactic to “get back” at the non-custodial parent for grievances of the past. According to Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/10-5.5, a parent who is found guilty of unlawful visitation or parenting time interference has committed a petty offense. The third offense is a Class A misdemeanor. The non-custodial parent has the option of filing a petition for unlawful visitation interference.

Other Types of Interference with Visitation and Custody

  • Custodial parent agrees to drop the child off for visitation and they bring the child late;
  • The custodial parent insists on picking the child up early, before visitation time has expired;
  • Custodial parent does not make the child present, or does not have them ready to go, at the agreed upon time and location for the non-custodial parent to pick the child up for visitation;
  • The custodial parent makes excuses to alter the days of visitation, to reduce the hours or days of visitation, or threatens to disallow the non-custodial parent access to their child if they do not agree to the custodial parent’s terms;
  • The custodial parent insists on tagging along or acting like a supervisor during visitation time activities when the non-custodial parent does not want them to participate in visitation;
  • Denying the child to talk on the phone or via email with the non-custodial parent; and
  • Asking the child to report on the non-custodial parent in order to petition the court to reduce their visitation rights.

Remedies to Interference

If the court agrees with your argument:

  • You may be awarded extra visitation time to make up what you lost;
  • The court may permanently change the custody agreement to give you shared or full custody, assuming you meet the definition of statute 50 ILCS 5/600 for “caretaking functions;” and/or
  • The other parent may be fined or even given a jail sentence.

Interference Needs to Be Habitual in Order for the Court to Take Action

If the interference is a one-time thing or happens just occasionally, you may not have a solid case to petition the court to change the custody agreement or getting back your lost time. The interference must be habitual.

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IL divorce lawyerIn Illinois, marital assets are divided equitably. While you may end up receiving less than half of the total assets, the court ensures that assets are not distributed unfairly. Marital assets include everything from income, dividends, investment returns, real property, vehicles, and more that were acquired during the duration of the marriage. Assets owned by either party before the marriage began are considered non-marital assets, as are personal injury settlements, lawsuit awards, and inheritance.

This means that, for a long marriage, most of the assets are probably marital property that must be accounted for and divided equitably. For high asset marriages, it is not uncommon for one of the parties—usually the spouse in charge of banking, finances, and taxes—to hide some of the marital assets in order to make off with more than their fair share. If you are going through a divorce, you need to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that all assets are accounted for.

How Are Assets Hidden?

The most common ways that assets are hidden by one spouse from the other include the following:

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Il family lawyerOf the 13.4 million custodial single U.S. parents, half have a legal or informal child support agreement with the other parent. Child support is used to pay for food, rent or mortgage payments, education, clothing, childcare, healthcare, transportation, and everything else that a child depends upon. As a parent’s financial situation changes, they may have a decreased or increased ability to pay child support or to financially support their child as the custodial parent. Moreover, child support may need to be modified due to a change in the child’s circumstances, such as needing cancer treatment, or no longer needing as many hours per week in childcare once they are enrolled in public school.

As children grow, parents get promotions or lose their jobs, families suffer unexpected medical emergencies, and other normal life events unfold throughout the years, a child support agreement that once made sense, may no longer be relevant. As either the custodial or paying parent, you may be able to modify the child support agreement if you can prove to the court that there have been substantial changes in circumstances for you, the other parent, or the child. A DuPage County family law attorney can help you petition the court for this much-needed modification.

Substantial Change in Circumstances

According to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, child support is eligible for review for modification every three years. Or, a review can be done when a significant change occurs in the child’s needs or the financial ability of either parent. These changes in circumstances include the following:

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IL divorce lawyerPrenuptial agreements have been around for a long time. They are used to separate each party’s finances so that not everything gets lumped into marital assets during the duration of the marriage. For example, a prenuptial agreement could have a clause that all of the high earning spouse’s salary during the marriage be considered non-marital assets. Prenuptial agreements are also used to protect one spouse from the other’s horrible debt, as well as many other financial reasons. Lifestyle clauses within pre- and postnuptial agreements are entirely different.

What Is a Lifestyle Clause?

A lifestyle clause is a pre or postnuptial agreement between spouses about the behavior of one or both during the marriage, typically relating to in-laws, religion, and other joint decisions such as child raising. Some spouses are putting in lifestyle clauses within their pre- and postnuptials that limits the other spouse’s weight, limits time spent with in-laws, or limits the number of days that in-laws can stay in the couple’s home. Other lifestyle clauses are used to deter infidelity, set up rules regarding a child’s religious upbringing or education, or who gets the family pet if it comes to divorce. None of these lifestyle clauses discuss money, aside from the financial penalties that breaking the rules may incur.

Financial Penalties Are Commonly Used to Hold Both Spouses Accountable

The predominant way that lifestyle clauses are used to hold each spouse accountable, at least for wealthy married couples, is with the use of financial penalties. For example, if a husband gained 10 pounds, the prenuptial agreement may require him to pay his wife $1,000 for each pound gained, coming to $10,000. Infidelity could be fined at $500,000, as some reported clauses mandate.

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