Tag Archives: Geneva family law lawyer

Extending Child Support for College ExpensesChild support payments in Illinois usually end after a child turns 18 or graduates from high school. However, a family court can order both parents to contribute toward a non-minor child’s post-high education. Paying for your child to attend college can cost tens-of-thousands of dollars each year, and getting your co-parent to help pay for it may be the best way to afford it. The court will not automatically award you child support to pay for college expenses. You must prove that the support payments are necessary, and your child student must meet certain conditions for the payments to continue.

Establishing Support

Child support payments were mandatory when your child was a minor. Now that your child is a legal adult, you have a burden of proof to show why your co-parent should continue making support payments. In reaching its decision, the court will consider:

  • Each parent’s financial resources;
  • How the parents’ divorce affected the child’s standard of living;
  • The child’s academic performance; and
  • The child’s own financial resources.

The court may want you to explore options that could save money on college before it awards support payments. This may include applying for financial aid or attending a more affordable college when given a choice of two schools that offer equal educational opportunities.

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Grandparents Have Limited Right to Demand Visits with GrandchildrenA divorce or separation can affect children’s relationships with their grandparents, as well as their parents. Unlike parents, grandparents are not presumed to have the right to see their grandchildren. The grandparents’ son or daughter often allows them to visit their grandchildren. However, one parent who has exclusive responsibility for the children may prevent his or her co-parent’s relatives from seeing the children. In order to see their grandchildren, the grandparents will need to prove in court that denying their visits is harmful to the children.

Unreasonable Denial

Illinois family law presumes that parents have the children’s best interests in mind when they do not allow a non-parent to see their children. Grandparents can try to rebut that presumption by claiming that denying them visitation is unreasonable and emotionally harmful to the children. A court will permit grandparents to petition for visitation if one of the following conditions exists:

  • The children’s parents have divorced or separated and one of the parents does not object to them visiting the children;
  • The parents are unmarried and living separately;
  • One of the parents is dead;
  • One of the parents has been missing for at least 90 days;
  • One of the parents has been in jail for at least 90 days; or
  • One of the parents is legally incompetent to care for the children.

Granting Visitation

When hearing a petition for visitation, the court will decide whether it is appropriate to grant visitation to the grandparents against the parent’s wishes. The grandparents must prove that they have a strong and close relationship with the children and that denying them visits is emotionally harming the children. Illinois law instructs courts to consider whether:

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What Can Make a Premarital Agreement Invalid?Spouses are bound to the terms of their premarital agreement when they decide to divorce. A court may rule that the agreement is unenforceable if:

  • One of the parties did not sign it voluntarily;
  • One of the parties did not reasonably disclose his or her individual assets;
  • The agreement terms were unfair at the time that the agreement was created;
  • One of the parties' circumstances changed in a way that could not be foreseen and makes the agreement unfair; or
  • The agreement determines child support and the allocation of parental responsibilities, which it is not allowed to do.

In the recent case of In re Marriage of Woodrum, an Illinois woman argued that her premarital agreement was unconscionable. The court rejected her argument because it found no evidence that the agreement was unfair or invalid.

Case Details

The spouses in the case had cohabitated for six years prior to their marriage in 2007. Having both previously divorced, they signed a premarital agreement that stated:

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How Your Behavior Affects the Allocation of Parental ResponsibilitiesNegotiating the allocation of parental responsibilities may try your emotions more than any aspect of your divorce. You are arguing for the time you get to spend with your children and the role you will play in their lives. A court will assume that you are both entitled to some responsibilities over your children but prefers to give a majority of the responsibility to one of you. The court will award primary responsibility to the parent who can best serve the children’s needs, and your actions during the case can influence a court’s decision. Here are five mistakes to avoid during a case to determine parental responsibilities:

  1. Do Not Assume the Outcome: A mother traditionally keeps the children after a divorce because she is often the primary caregiver. However, the law is supposed to be gender neutral. Mothers who assume that they will receive a majority of the parenting time may appear arrogant or fail to make a strong case. Fathers should not concede their parental rights without an argument because they assume they will lose their cases.
  2. Do Not Make the Case About Yourself: The court’s primary concern is the needs of your children, and each point you make in presenting your case should support that. The court may believe you are selfish if you focus on your desire to have a majority of the parenting time with your children without mentioning why it would be most beneficial to them.
  3. Do Not Behave Vindictively Towards Your Co-Parent: You have a responsibility to inform the court if your co-parent may cause actual harm to your children. However, you should refrain from bringing up your personal grievances with your co-parent. Disagreeing with someone does not make him or her a bad parent. Instead, you will appear bitter and petty, which diminishes you in the eyes of the court.
  4. Do Not Speak For Your Children: You can explain to the court why you are the best choice as the primary parent for your children. However, you should not claim that your children prefer you as the primary parent. You are being unfair to your children by implying that they have a favorite parent.
  5. Do Not Show Too Much or Too Little Emotion: Your behavior during the case should show that you care about your children and that you are a calm and rational parent. Showing too much emotion makes you seem unstable, but showing too little emotion makes you seem callous.

Determining Parental Responsibilities

You can help your case for being the primary parent of your children by showing that you will put their needs ahead of your own. A Kane County family law attorney at Geneva Family Lawyers can help you present an argument for the majority of the allocation of parental responsibilities. Schedule a free consultation by calling 331-588-6611.

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Using a Parenting Agreement to Anticipate ConflictDespite reaching a parenting agreement during their divorce or separation, it is common for co-parents to disagree with each other about parenting decisions afterward. Parents in a high-conflict relationship seem particularly adept at finding topics to argue about. You may wonder how effective your parenting agreement is if you continue to disagree on your parenting schedule and how to raise your children. Co-parents who anticipate continued conflict should create an agreement that is clear in stating how parental responsibilities will be allocated and when it will allow deviations.

Detailed Agreement

Co-parenting conflicts can arise when the language in a parenting agreement is ambiguous. Your co-parent may have a different interpretation of a vague section in the agreement. Even if that interpretation was not your intention when creating the agreement, your co-parent can take advantage of the ambiguity to use it as a defense for his or her actions. A high-conflict parenting agreement can avoid differing interpretations by being detailed, such as stating:

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