Recent Changes To Divorce, Child Support, Alimony & Custody
Divorce and paternity matters have undergone many changes in the past few years. Some of the old rules have given way to new rules that better accommodate the needs of modern families.
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The Court now takes into consideration the income of both parties, when calculating child support. Both parties have an obligation to support their children. In the past, child support was based solely on the income of the party that did not have possession of the children full-time. The old system caused great disparities when the non-custodian parent earned substantially less than the parent with possession of the children. The new law allows both parents to pay support in proportion to their incomes. This new law is better suited for modern era, now that many children are born into dual income households.
However, if a party is overpaying support due to a decrease in income or having a child turn 18 years old, the person overpaying can stop the overpayment by asking the court for a modification or even ask the court to stop the child support entirely.
If there is unpaid child support, numerous enforcement procedures are available. For unpaid child support, both wages and bank accounts can be garnished. If someone is months or even years past due on child support, contempt proceedings can be initiated and the person owing past due child support can spent some time in their local jail. Most people do not want jail time, so it is great motivator to persuade someone to start paying child support!
Maintenance – Alimony
Maintenance, formerly known as alimony, is enforceable similar to child support but the calculation for maintenance used to be discretionary. The amount of money a party had to pay in maintenance and alimony depended on the Judge assigned to the matter. The discretionary nature of maintenance meant very different outcomes for parties in similar financial situations. Recently, Illinois law makers created a better-defined formula, so it is much easier to determine if a party has to pay maintenance and if so, how much. This can be determined near the beginning of any case once the parties disclose their finances to the other party and can be used to quickly resolve a case.
Decision-making – Custody
“Custody” is not a word that is used in parenting evaluations by the Court anymore. When it comes to disputes involving children and their parents, the Court starts its evaluation by realizing that both parents should have equal rights to their children, unless one parent engages in a pattern of behavior that could harm the children. The Court uses the word “decision-making” to allow parents the right to make decisions for the education, health, extracurricular and general care for their children. The general terms of the parties’ parenting agreements are clearly stated in a Parenting Plan. A carefully drafted Parenting Plan would prevent future misunderstandings regarding parenting decisions, scheduled activities and parenting time with the children.
The core of family law is divorce. Many divorce attorneys take control of a divorce case without considering the specific needs of their client. Divorce attorneys work for their client, not the other way around. Clients should feel comfortable telling their attorney how they would like their divorce case to be resolved. The attorney should advise clients if their desirable results are likely and if not, offer alternative solutions to reach ascertainable goals. We are experienced and knowledgeable and can handle a full range of divorce cases, from low-cost uncontested divorces to extensive parenting plan disputes and complex property distributions.
We understand that every case is unique. Family law can be complicated and emotionally taxing. You need a firm that is sensitive to your needs and knowledgeable about family law, both the new and longstanding laws. Give us a call, if you have questions about starting a divorce or paternity matter or if you need help modifying or enforcing an order from a family law case.