shutterstock_1456860602-1.jpgWhen a court issues a child support order as part of a divorce or family law case, a parent will be required to pay support as ordered. This support is meant to ensure that children’s ongoing needs will be provided for. Since failure to pay support may affect children’s ability to receive the necessary nutrition and have a safe place to live, judges will not look kindly on a person who has not met their obligations. 

However, there are many situations where a parent may find it difficult or impossible to pay child support as ordered while also meeting their own needs. This has been a significant concern for many during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who have lost their jobs may have struggled to make child support payments while also paying for their own living expenses. The situation may be even more serious for parents who have contracted Covid, and in addition to being unable to earn an income while recovering, some have experienced ongoing health issues that have affected their ability to work and made it impossible for them to provide financial support for their children.

While courts may recognize that a person has experienced difficulties in their life, a parent will be legally obligated to meet the requirements of a child support order as long as it is in effect. In addition to making ongoing payments, any missed payments will need to be made up, and interest will be applied to the past-due amount. Failure to pay child support can also lead to a number of other penalties, and in some cases, a judge may decide to hold a person in contempt. This could lead a judge to put a parent on probation or suspend their driver’s license, or the parent may even be sentenced to up to six months in prison. During a prison sentence, arrangements may be put in place allowing for release at certain days and times to ensure that a person can work, with some or all of the income they earn going toward child support payments. 

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dupage county family law attorneyIn family law cases involving children, parents will often disagree about the best ways to handle child custody. While some divorcing parents may be able to resolve their differences and reach agreements on these issues, this is not always possible. In cases involving contentious disputes between parents or other situations where outside help may be needed to make custody-related decisions, a guardian ad litem may be appointed. By understanding the duties of a guardian ad litem and how they may influence a child custody case, parents can determine the best ways to protect their rights and address their children’s best interests.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?

When parents cannot reach agreements about how they will share in the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, they may leave the final decisions on these matters up to the judge who oversees their case. However, a judge may be concerned that they do not have enough information to determine what would be in the children’s best interests. To gain a better insight into the case, the judge may appoint a guardian ad litem (also known as a GAL). Either parent may also ask that a GAL be appointed if they believe that it would be necessary.

A guardian ad litem is an attorney who will be tasked with representing the best interests of the children in a divorce or family law case. While parents will usually divide the costs of the GAL’s services, the GAL will not represent either party. Instead, they will be focused on determining how the outstanding issues in the case can be resolved in a way that will best provide for children’s needs while ensuring that they can maintain close relationships with both parents.

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dupage county divorce lawyerA divorce will involve multiple types of legal issues, and at the end of the divorce process, the decisions made about these issues will be set down in their divorce decree. The final orders issued by a family court will address how the ex-spouses will handle certain issues going forward, and both spouses are required to follow the terms of these orders. However, there may be some cases where a spouse may feel that these orders no longer apply to their situation, and they may seek a post-divorce modification. It is important to understand when these modifications can be made and how a person can successfully demonstrate that their requested changes are necessary.

Demonstrating a Significant Change in Circumstances

In most cases, the terms of a divorce order can only be changed if one of the spouses or the children they share have experienced a significant change in circumstances. Some examples of these changes include:

  • Loss of income - If an ex-spouse loses their job, experiences a demotion, or will be earning a lower income for other reasons, they may be unable to continue paying financial support to their ex-spouse while also meeting their own needs. In these cases, they may request for child support or spousal maintenance payments to be reduced temporarily until they can find a new job, or they may request a permanent modification if they will be unable to return to their previous income level.

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illinois child support lawyerWhen parents get divorced, they will need to address multiple types of financial issues, and child support is an area that will most likely be a significant concern. While parents will want to ensure that their children’s needs will be provided for, they will also need to make sure they will have the financial resources to meet their own needs. By understanding the procedures used to calculate child support payments and working with an attorney who can advocate for their rights and financial interests, parents can make sure this issue will be addressed properly.

Guidelines for Calculating Child Support

The method used to determine an appropriate amount of child support has changed in recent years to address the fact that in most families, both parents work outside the home and earn income used to support themselves and their children. Currently, the guidelines for determining child support provided in Illinois’ laws take the income earned by both parents into account.

To calculate child support, each parent’s monthly net income must first be determined by taking their gross income and subtracting any allowed deductions. Deductions often include taxes, union dues, and child support or spousal support obligations a previous marriage or relationship. The parents’ net incomes are then added together, and this amount is used to determine the proper child support obligation. A table known as a “schedule of basic child support obligations” will provide the amount of support that would be appropriate for the number of children the couple has together.

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DuPage County divorce lawyer for college expensesWhen married parents choose to split up, child support is one of the primary issues they will need to address. Those with younger children will likely be focused on making sure child support will address daily needs, such as providing children with food, shelter, and clothing. However, parents of teenagers may be looking at what will happen as their children grow up and leave home. Parents will usually want to make sure their children can receive the education they need to pursue opportunities in their chosen career. Because of this, divorcing parents will need to consider how they will contribute to their children’s college expenses.

Non-Minor Support in Illinois

While child support is paid until a child graduates from high school or turns 18 (whichever happens later), divorced parents in Illinois also have the obligation to help their children pay educational expenses when attending college. When creating a divorce settlement, parents may agree on how much they will each contribute, or the court may order either or both parents to pay a certain amount based on the incomes they earn and the property they own. When determining an appropriate amount, the court may also consider the financial resources available to the child, such as college savings accounts or financial aid.

Non-minor support for educational expenses may include:

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