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Hillside, IL 60162

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Oak Park Parenting Time LawyerSpouses in Illinois often get divorced because abuse or neglect exists in the marriage. Sometimes, such behavior is directed towards a couple’s children even before the couple decides to separate. Other times, fears of child abuse may suddenly arise after a child comes back from spending parenting time with their other parent and something seems terribly wrong. Regardless of how the issue arose, it is essential to take your hunches about child abuse or neglect seriously. If you are in this situation and wondering whether the situation may justify a parenting agreement modification, read on. 

Do I Need to Show Evidence of Abuse? 

Illinois courts take allegations of child abuse very seriously. However, family court judges are also aware that spouses will sometimes make false or exaggerated claims about abuse to try to get revenge on each other, or to try to keep children away from their other parent. For these reasons, it is essential to have some tangible evidence that child abuse is taking place so something can be done. 

Sometimes, child abuse is obvious. If your child comes home from visiting their other parent and has physical injuries, or claims their parent or someone else hurt them, you may need to contact the authorities right away. But when abuse is more subtle or takes the form of emotional or verbal abuse, gathering evidence can be more difficult. Parents should be cautious about questioning their children about abuse because it may be easy to accidentally give children false memories, or to make it difficult for them to remember what really happened. Help from a therapist or other child psychological experts may be necessary to discover the truth.   

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Oak Park Family Law AttorneyIf you have been through a divorce and have children, you may be the recipient of child support payments, or you may be the one making the payments. The initial payment arrangement is either agreed to during the divorce process or through a court order by a judge ruling on the issue. It is based on certain factors, including the combined income of the two parents, how many children are being supported, and local cost of living charts. However, the courts recognize that living situations can change post-divorce. Child support modifications are available for many changes in post-divorce circumstances, and employment status is one such circumstance.

If the parent making the payments loses their job, they can request a temporary reduction through the court in the amount they have to pay. Either parent can petition the court for a child support modification to change the original order. If the job loss was due to being laid off, being fired, or if they are unable to work due to factors outside of their control, the court is more likely to grant a modification request. However,  if the child support payor voluntarily left their job and has not been making a concerted effort to regain employment, or willingly took a substantial pay cut, the court may deny the request. It is important to attempt to keep making the payments previously ordered by the court in the divorce case until the modification has been approved by a new court order.

The same factors are considered if the parent receiving the child support payments loses their job. They can request a modification to increase the payments they receive to offset their lost income, but, again, the court will look at the reasons for the job loss or pay cut, as well as look at their employment search Efforts.

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Oak Park Family Law AttorneyFathers who are involved in family law court cases usually want to make sure their parental rights will be protected. When a married couple with children gets divorced, both parents will usually have the right to share custody (now known as “parental responsibilities” in Illinois) of their children. However, if a child’s parents are unmarried, the father likely may first need to establish paternity before he will have any legal child custody rights. By understanding when it may be necessary to establish paternity and the rights that will apply to parents and children in paternity cases, fathers can make sure they take the correct legal steps that will allow them to maintain close, ongoing relationships with their children.

Establishing Legal Paternity in Illinois

If a mother is married when her child is born, by law her spouse is presumed to be the  parent of the child. However, if the mother is not married, she and the father may need to take steps to ensure that the father will be recognized as the child’s parent. Even if both parents agree that a man is the child’s father, a failure to legally establish paternity may result in disputes in the future if the parents disagree about how they will share custody, or about other subjects. Without legal rights toward the child, the father may be unable to participate in raising the child or spend regular time with them.

To avoid these types of problems, parents can establish paternity by signing a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” form (“VAP”). This may be done immediately after the child’s birth, and hospital personnel can usually assist parents in the completion of this form. Parents may also agree to voluntarily acknowledge paternity at a later date, and they may do so by obtaining a form from their local courthouse or child support office. If both parents do not agree to acknowledge paternity, either parent may pursue a paternity case with the assistance of Illinois Child Support Services, or they may file a petition with the court and ask a judge to order genetic testing to confirm the identity of the child’s father.

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Oak Park Family Law AttorneyWhen a child’s parents split up, family law courts which address issues related to child custody will be looking to protect the child’s best interests. In addition to making decisions about where a child will primarily live, how involved each parent will be in raising the child, and when the child will spend time with each parent, the court will also ensure that the child’s financial needs will be properly addressed. Child support obligations will apply to both parents, and these obligations will be determined based on the amounts of income the parents earn. The parents may also be required to divide certain child-related expenses, such as the costs of daycare, medical treatment and extracurricular activities. However, the parents’ income may change in the years after the court makes its decision, and in such situations, it is important to understand when and how child support may be modified according to Illinois law.

Requesting a Child Support Modification

Parents may request modifications of child support orders if they believe that changes are necessary. In most cases, when a parent petitions for modifications to these orders, they will be required to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. These changes may have affected either parent or their children, but the petitioner will need to show that they are significant enough to require a modification to orders that had been issued previously. 

Changes in income will often qualify for a child support modification. For example, if a parent who makes monthly child support payments has lost their job and cannot make the required payments, they may request that their payments be temporarily lowered or suspended until they can find employment. In these situations, that parent will typically need to show that the changes in employment occurred in good faith (for example, they did not voluntarily quit their job in order to avoid paying child support), and that they are making efforts to find a new job that will allow them to meet their financial obligations. Until a new court order is issued, existing child support obligations will remain in place. However, modifications may be made retroactive to the date that a petition for modification of child support was filed, so it is important for a parent to act quickly to request a modification as soon as they experience issues that affect their ability to meet their obligations.

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Oak Park Marital Agreement LawyerMost people are familiar with the concept of a prenuptial agreement, or prenup. These types of agreements are signed by couples before getting married, and they may address issues related to the ownership of property and decide how certain matters will be handled if the marriage ends in divorce. What some people may not realize is that a couple can also create a similar type of agreement after they are already married. These agreements are known as postnuptial agreements, or postnups. By understanding the situations where a postnup may be beneficial, a couple can determine whether creating this type of agreement will be a good idea.

Situations Where Postnuptial Agreements Can Provide Protections for Spouses

A postnuptial agreement can address certain types of financial or property-related issues, detailing how these matters will be addressed if a couple chooses to end their marriage and pursue a divorce or legal separation. Spouses may decide how their marital property will be divided, or whether one spouse will pay spousal maintenance (a.k.a. alimony or spousal support) to the other. Some reasons why it may be a good idea to make these decisions ahead of time through a postnup include:

  • A spouse plans to start a business - Ownership of a family business is often one of the most complex issues to address during the divorce process. If one spouse is a business owner, they may want to make sure their business will be protected from dissolution during divorce, and they can use a postnuptial agreement to ensure that they will be the sole owner of the business. A postnup may also provide the non-business-owner spouse with financial protections, such as by ensuring that the marital home or other assets will not be placed at risk if the business experiences financial difficulties.

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