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Family Law

shutterstock_1075081070.jpgWhen parents of children under 18 years old get divorced, child support payments are almost always involved. Under Illinois law, both parents are responsible for providing their children with reliable financial support and, using both parents’ incomes, Illinois has a formula to help determine roughly what child support payments will be.

However, many parents in Illinois have income levels that far exceed the parameters laid out by the Income Shares formula. When this happens, it can be much harder to predict child support payments. If you or your spouse is a high earner, here are three things to know about child support in Illinois.

The Court Must Approve Any Child Support Agreements

In a perfect world, divorcing parents would agree on everything and the divorce process would be smooth and uncontested. In the real world, this is rarely the case - especially when large amounts of money are at stake. Sometimes parents can agree on a child support payment amount. However, if they do so, they must get the child support arrangement approved by the court. Under Illinois law, a parent may not forfeit his or her right to child support from the other parent. Child support payments are for the child’s benefit. The court will want to ensure that the payment amount will reasonably meet the child’s financial needs.


shutterstock_339672179-min.jpgCreating a new parenting agreement or modifying an old one can be a difficult task that requires parents to set realistic expectations and understand how Illinois family law works. In Illinois, child custody is divided into two parts: allocation of parental responsibilities, meaning important decision-making authority, and parenting time, meaning the time children physically or electronically spend with each parent.

Although parents are encouraged to create a parenting plan that they both agree on, if they are unable to cooperate, courts may intervene. If you are facing a disputed custody case in Illinois, here are five of the most important factors Illinois family courts will look at.

The Child’s Best Interests

The primary consideration of Illinois family courts is whether any particular arrangement would be in the best interests of the child. Although this is a somewhat vague term, it is a benchmark against which all other considerations can be tested. Even if a child says he or she wishes to spend all their time with one parent, the courts must consider the child’s maturity and relevant psychological research to determine whether such a request would be in the child’s best long-term interests.


shutterstock_450844792-min.jpgFathers facing custody hearings in Illinois are often nervous - and understandably so. When you are asking the court to spend time with your children, it can feel like so much is at stake. Whether your hearing is to determine parenting time or allocation of parental responsibilities, whether it takes place during divorce or a parenting agreement modification, here are four tips that can help you prepare.

Present Your Best Self

Although the old adage telling us not to judge a book by its cover may be helpful in some circumstances, a family court is not the place to push boundaries. Play it safe and look sharp: wear clean clothes, style your hair neatly, and demonstrate with your appearance that you care about the outcome of this case.

Prepare Documents and Witnesses

Necessary documents that prove your relationship with your child, like phone logs, report cards, and photographs, should be gathered and organized well before your hearing. They should be easily accessible so you are not left scrambling on the morning of the hearing - or worse, during the hearing itself. Furthermore, if you are calling any witnesses to testify, you should compile an easy-to-read witness list with the contact information of each individual.


shutterstock_127617116-min.jpgOne of the most difficult things that can happen in a divorce is the fallout between the parents of a child and the child’s grandparents or other family members. Sometimes parents are trying so hard to get “even” with each other that they are willing to sacrifice the child’s relationship with their relatives. Other times, the parent dislikes their former partner’s family or feels that interacting with them is simply too painful.

Whatever the reason, the loss of the relationship between the grandparents and the child can be very painful. Grandparents may wonder whether they have the right to visit their grandchild, even if one of the parents does not consent. Although parents are generally permitted to make decisions regarding whether a child has visitation with family members, it may be possible to petition for visitation. If you are a grandparent or other relative in this situation, read on.

Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in Illinois?

Grandparents will be relieved to know that, in certain circumstances, they can successfully petition for visitation rights with their grandchild. In fact, this is true for other family members as well: great-grandparents, siblings, and step-parents can also petition for visitation rights when at least one parent has unreasonably denied a request to visit a child.


shutterstock_609555482-min.jpgOne of the most difficult and heart-wrenching parts of a divorce is figuring out whether your beloved family heirlooms may be in danger of being included in the asset division process. Sometimes items that have been handed down through generations can be of great monetary value - jewelry, furniture, collectibles - and other times, these items are of great sentimental value.

Fortunately, there are certain steps that individuals can take to protect their family valuables during a divorce. A qualified Illinois divorce attorney can help people considering marriage understand how to protect their assets preemptively and can also help those considering divorce create a plan to protect important assets during property division.

Consider a Prenuptial Agreement

Prenuptial agreements may have a reputation for existing exclusively in the realm of the rich and powerful, but this is simply not the case. They are valuable legal instruments that, if drawn up correctly, can protect the individual property of anyone getting married. Even if family heirlooms are not of particularly great value, a prenuptial agreement can state that all personal property that was owned before the marriage by one spouse will remain the exclusive property of that spouse after divorce.

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