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child support, Wheaton family lawyerChild support is designed to help a child of divorced or unmarried parents to benefit from both parents’ financial support. Illinois considers it the right of the child to receive child support, so support payments are totally separate from issues of parental responsibility and parenting time. If you are a parent who is getting divorced or you share a child with someone you are not currently married to, you probably have several questions regarding child support.

If you are the parent with less parenting time, you may be wondering how much your support payments will be. If you are the parent with the majority of the parental responsibilities, or the custodial parent, you likely want to know what you will receive in child support. As with many aspects of family law, the issue of child support calculation can become complex.

Income Shares Model is Used to Calculate Child Support in Illinois

The laws regarding child support in Illinois have changed dramatically in recent years. Previous to July 2017, child support amounts were almost entirely dependent on the paying parent’s income. Now, the amount that a parent pays in child support is calculated based on the Income Shares Model. This is a more comprehensive means of calculating support that takes both parents’ income and financial circumstances into consideration. The new model also takes shared parenting into account. If a child spends at least 146 overnights a year with each parent, the method of calculating child support is slightly different.

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cohabitation agreement, DuPage County family law attorneyMore and more couples are choosing not to get married. It is possible that many people avoid marriage for the simple fact that so many marriages end in divorce. Other couples have personal reasons for putting off tying the knot. However, legal and financial issues can arise when an unmarried cohabitating couple breaks up. Unlike when a married couple splits, a cohabitating couple does not have legal protections which ensure that their property is fairly split.

Illinois does not recognize common law marriages so there are no laws which direct how an unmarried couple’s property and debts should be divided when they break up. One way to protect yourself when living with a partner who you are not married to is a cohabitation agreement.

What Is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is similar to a marriage agreement or prenuptial agreement in that it is a legally-enforceable contract that dictates how an unmarried couple’s property will be divided if they break up. A cohabitation agreement can be used to decide each party’s financial responsibilities in advance. More specifically, a cohabitation agreement can allow you to:

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divorce, DuPage County divorce lawyersIf you are considering filing for divorce or you have already decided to end your marriage, you are probably dealing with a litany of emotions. Some people feel a sense of relief when they decide to finally end a bad marriage. Others are overwhelmed by feelings of grief or regret. Whatever you are going through, understand that having a strong reaction to the end of your marriage is perfectly normal. Furthermore, there are several steps mental health experts say can help you deal with the barrage of feelings you will experience when you choose to get divorced.

Allow Yourself to Experience Grief and Other Negative Emotions Without Judgement

The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory is a ranking of the most stressful life events a person can experience. Among the ranking of life events are things like being fired from your job, the death of a close family member, pregnancy, and more. You may be surprised to know that getting divorced is actually the second-most stressful life event on this list. Only the death of a spouse is considered more stressful than divorce. This is just one illustration which proves that anyone going through a divorce deserves to give themselves a break. Do not worry about the feelings you are or are not having. Try to allow yourself to experience these emotions without judgment.

Take Care of Your Mental and Physical Health

More and more research is illuminating the direct connection between emotional well-being and physical health. Many studies show that something as simple as taking a walk or participating in a group exercise class can do wonders for mental health. Experts also encourage anyone going through a divorce to be cautious when using drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol. It can be easy to fall into a dangerous pattern of overuse when your life is turned upside down by the breakdown of your marriage. Lastly, mental health experts encourage anyone coping with divorce to seek out the companionship of friends, family, and other supportive people. Many people find that joining a support group, church or other religious institution, or even a sports or hobby group is an effective way to cope with divorce.

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child support, DuPage County family law attorneyUnmarried or divorced parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children just as married parents do. Unfortunately, some children are forced to live without the monetary support they need when a parent does not pay his or her court-ordered child support. Illinois courts do not take child support nonpayment lightly. Stern laws have been enacted to enforce child support orders and punish parents who do not pay. If your child’s other parent is not paying child support, read on to learn about your options under Illinois law.

Child Support Is Only Enforceable When It Is Ordered by the Court

If you and your child’s other parent only had a casual agreement that they would pay you a certain amount of money in child support, it is going to be much more complicated for you to collect this payment. Illinois courts can only step in and enforce support obligations when there is a court-authorized, legally-enforceable child support order. Fortunately, there are several ways you can acquire this court order.

If there is a question as to the biological relationship between your child and the other parent, you may need to establish paternity before you can collect child support. This can be done via a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form or by filing for an administrative paternity order either with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services or your local family court. After legal parentage has been established, you will be able to pursue child support.

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maintenance, Wheaton divorce lawyersIf you are considering divorce in Illinois, you probably have many questions. One of these may be about whether or not you will be required to pay alimony, or spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is designed to help financially support a lesser-earning spouse after a divorce. While spousal maintenance is awarded less often now than it was in the past, there is still a possibility you will be required to make spousal maintenance payments. Read on to learn about alimony laws in Illinois, as well as how recent federal tax law changes can affect the amount of alimony spouses pay and receive.

Spousal Support Basics

Spousal maintenance, or spousal support, can often be a contentious issue during a divorce. Courts examine many factors when deciding whether or not a spousal maintenance order is appropriate. When making spousal support decisions, Illinois courts typically consider:

  • Any existing premarital or prenuptial agreements between the parties;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • How long the marriage lasted;
  • Each party’s property and income including retirement and disability income;
  • The age and health of each party;
  • Each party’s present and future earning capacity;
  • Contributions each party made to the marriage including contributions made as a homemaker or stay-at-home-parent;
  • Contributions that one spouse made to the advancement of the other spouse’s education or career;
  • How long it will take the party requesting support to gain suitable education, training, and employment;
  • Tax consequences of spousal maintenance options; and
  • Other factors that the court believes are fair and pertinent.

How Recent Changes in Tax Law Affect Spousal Support

Previous to the recent passage of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, spousal maintenance payers were able to claim maintenance payments as a deduction on annual tax returns. The spouse receiving alimony was obligated to report maintenance received as taxable income. Now, spousal maintenance payers do not receive a deduction, and maintenance recipients will no longer report payments as taxable income.

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