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Lake County Family Law Blog

What are reasons to modify child support arrangements?

Illinois residents like you understand that child support payments may need to be changed sometimes. At the Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, P.C., we help walk you through the valid reasons for changing these payments, as well as the steps that must be taken to do so.

Guidelines are used to calculate child support payments, and they are considered to be relatively streamlined and good for setting a standard across the board. This keeps things fair for the parents who have to pay. But what if your situation changes? The formula used to determine child support may become outdated for several reasons, most of which are tied to big life changes that have impacted one or both spouse's income. This can include things that both lower or raise it, such as:

  • Suddenly being let go
  • Getting a promotion
  • Marrying into another family with children to support
  • Having an accident or illness

How do you request a child custody modification?

As parents like you know, child custody modifications made during one point in your life aren't always going to be good for other points in your life. In Illinois, there is the possibility for you to modify a child custody arrangement after it has been made. However, there are some important things to know first.

FindLaw takes a look at how child custody modifications can be made, and there are two primary options: through hearing, and through agreement. Hearing is the more complex of the two, but this is what you'll need to do if you and your ex-partner can't agree on terms, or even on whether a modification needs to be made in the first place.

Understanding the financial implications of divorce

As someone working your way through an Illinois divorce, you may be devoting attention to where you will live and what type of child-custody arrangement you might land on moving forward. While considering such matters is an important part of a divorce, so, too, is recognizing that there are many financial implications involved in splitting from your spouse. At the Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, P.C., we are well-versed in the many financial issues that arise amid divorce, and we have helped many Illinois residents navigate these and related matters.

According to Forbes, one of the most important financial matters to address during your divorce is what you plan to do with the once-shared home. For example, you may decide to sell the property and split the proceeds between you, or you or your former partner may decide to stay in the home by refinancing the mortgage, among other possible scenarios.

Legal separation as alternative to divorce

If you’ve been thinking about divorce but aren’t fully ready to commit to the prospect, a less permanent option to consider in Illinois is Legal Separation. As an alternative to divorce, it gives you a break from your spouse and allows you time to digest your options before you make a permanent decision.

Maybe you need time for counseling or time away from your spouse to think. A legal separation is court ordered and allows you to live financially and physically apart without terminating your marriage. After trying this option, a couple can choose to keep the separation in place permanently, divorce or remove the separation order and reunite.

Is mediation always a good option?

When you finally realize there is no saving your marriage, it makes sense to learn about the ways you can get a divorce. Like other Illinois residents, you may understand that in addition to litigation, you can consider alternative dispute resolution means, such as mediation. However, you also need to understand that being successful in an uncontested divorce depends on several factors.

The American Bar Association explains that there are numerous benefits to mediation. Typically, an uncontested divorce costs less and does not take as long as going to court. It may also reduce conflict and stress. However, you and your spouse would need to speak to each other civilly and be willing to compromise, which is difficult for many couples. You may also want to take note of the following situations, which can complicate mediation or make it impossible:

  • Your spouse was emotionally abusive or physically violent.
  • Substance abuse or alcoholism were a problem during the marriage.
  • Your spouse has a significant financial advantage over you.
  • Your spouse attempts to control every situation.
  • Neither one of you are willing to communicate or negotiate.
  • Your mediator is not being impartial.

Divorce negotiations set to take a major turn

Couples in Illinois who choose to end their marriages known that negotiating the terms of a divorce is never easy. However, after the change from 2018 to 2019, it could get even harder to come to an agreement on how to split assets and debts and whether or not one person will pay spousal support.

According to Bloomberg, a big change in the tax code that will take effect on January 1, 2019 is likely to have as big of a change on divorce negotiations as it has on income taxes. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the spouse who is ordered to pay alimony to their ex will now not only hand over money to that person but then turn around and pay income tax on the same money. This is in stark contrast to the way things have been for multiple decades where the spouse who paid alimony received an income tax deduction. 

Study shows joint-parenting may be best

Filing for divorce or legal separation is never an easy decision, especially when there are children involved. Child custody may be one of the most challenging issue to negotiate during this difficult time. Many families and courtrooms choose to place the children in the sole-custody of one parent, giving the non-custodial parent visiting time. However, studies show that children may benefit more from a joint-custody situation where the non-custodial parent is around more and engages in everyday activities.

A study published in Family Psychology looked at children who lived in sole-custody, joint-custody and traditional families. Researchers found that the kids who lived in joint-custody situations had a high self-esteem and fewer behavioral and emotional problems. They also did better in school and had stronger family relationships compared to children in the other living situations. Long-term, children who have both active parents achieve higher academic degrees, have better marriages, stronger social support and are overall better adjusted than kids who live primarily with one parent.

Is property divided 50/50 in Illinois?

Illinois is one of those states that has neither equitable distribution laws nor community property laws in place to dictate the property division process. For this reason, it is not uncommon for individuals who are on the brink of divorce to wonder if, like in community property states, divorce judges split marital assets 50/50. The short answer is no.

According to FindLaw, in absence of a statute requiring equal distribution, Illinois courts generally adhere to an equitable distribution standard. What this means is that the judge presiding over your case will attempt to divide your marital assets "equitably" — which means fairly, but not necessarily equal. 

Navigating the child custody landscape

What does the term "child custody" really mean? Perhaps that was the question in the minds of Illinois legislators when they redrafted the statutes to use "allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities" in the definitions of custody. Unfortunately, if the perplexity of many of our clients is any indication, lawmakers have somewhat confused the matter in their quest for specificity.

At the Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, P.C., we know that all families want the best for their kids. Whether that means making sure their college trusts stay intact or that the custodial spouse gets enough child support, we are ready to put in the work to make it happen. 

Planning your parenting time for the rest of the fall

With September over, the first month of school for your child after your divorce is done. It was difficult for you and your kid, but hopefully you are beginning to see some signs that they are becoming more used to the new status quo.

Now that you have an idea of what your child’s daily routine is like, October is the perfect time to discuss parenting time with your ex. There are several areas to cover and it can be awkward talking with your former spouse, but you are better off preparing now to avoid any more stressful situations for your family in the near future.

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Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, P.C.
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Lake Bluff, IL 60044

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