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Kane County child support lawyersWhether you are in the process of pursuing past-due child support, need to create a new support order, or are the paying parent facing collections for support, such expenses quickly add up and make a significant dent on your finances. The process of collecting or paying child support can take time, as each case is different and some are more challenging than others. Newly divorced parents who are being introduced to the process can feel especially overwhelmed, and those who have been long divorced can suddenly find themselves in the midst of all new tensions when financial disagreements arise. The mere subject of collection can be a touchy one, which is why it is so important to educate yourself at the onset of child support proceedings, no matter what role you play in your child’s life.

What Does a Child Support Hearing Typically Entail?

Should you be required to attend a hearing for your child support order, the hearing will be conducted by either a judge or the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). You will be expected to testify to a variety of questions, which will help the court determine how to proceed with your child support order. The questions you must answer will depend on the type of hearing you are attending and the circumstances surrounding your support case. Unwed parents who have not yet established paternity will be required to answer a different set of questions than newly divorced parents, as the legal circumstances differ. 

In general, however, there are some common topics every parent can expect to address at a hearing, including:

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St. Charles divorce attorneysIn Illinois, basic child support payments end when the child reaches 18 years of age or if the child earns a high school diploma (whichever comes last). During the divorce process, parents can come to an agreement in regards to their child’s continuing education costs. If an agreement cannot be reached, either party can petition a family court to address the matter and possibly assign a fair amount to be divided between both parents and the child. This amount is intended to specific eligible expenses related to college, trade school, or other post-high school education programs (i.e. tuition, housing, textbooks, etc…). Pre-college expenses such as application fees and ACT/SAT test fees could be included in the parental support payment agreement.

Support can be granted for a college-level child until their 23rd birthday or their graduation (whichever comes first). For good cause shown, the court could extend the support until the child’s 25th birthday.

How Is College Expense Support Determined?

Many college students pay for tuition and other expenses on their own. Others are granted scholarships for academic or athletic ability to help with college expenses. Why then would it be necessary to order divorced parents to pay for their non-minor child’s school fees?

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St. Charles family law attorneyEvery child has the right to be supported by both a mother and a father. There are some cases in which this is unable to happen due to the death of a parent. However, in cases where two parents are alive, both should be responsible for the upbringing of the minor. Unwed couples often have a more difficult time raising a child together, especially if the alleged father is denying paternity of the child. Most men deny a child because they do not want to assume the financial responsibility of raising a baby with a woman to whom he is not married.

In these cases, a mother can ask the court to order a paternity test to prove that a man is the father of her child. Once paternity is established, the mother can move on to file a petition for child support, and the couple can work on visitation rights of the father.

Why is it Important to Establish Paternity?

Unmarried parents in Illinois must establish paternity if they birth a child before marriage or else the father cannot be llsted on the child’s birth certificate. The child will suffer as well if paternity is not established because he or she might not have:

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St. Charles child support lawyerIllinois considers it the right of any child to receive financial support from both of his or her parents. Child support can allow a child with divorced or unmarried parents to experience the same opportunities and quality of life as he or she would with parents who are together. Illinois courts use a specific method, called “income shares,” to calculate fair and reasonable child support obligations. However, if something major changes in the life of either parent or the child, the child support order may need to be amended. It is important to learn the steps you should take to request a child support modification in Illinois.

What Should I Do If I Cannot Afford Child Support?

Child support payments can often be a substantial part of a parent’s overall expenses. If you realize that you cannot make your support payment, never simply stop paying. Child support nonpayment is taken very seriously by Illinois courts and you could face serious consequences for neglecting your obligation. Parents who fail to pay their court-ordered child support can face steep fines, wage and bank account garnishment, property liens, interception of tax returns, and more. In the most egregious cases, failure to pay child support can be considered a criminal offense punishable by jail time. If you realize that you cannot make your support payment, notify the recipient of support and your local county court house. To request a change in child support, file a Petition for Modification of Child Support with the court.

Grounds for Child Support Modification

Child support obligations cannot be changed without good reason. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Division of Child Support Services outlines the grounds on which a child support order can be changed. You can qualify for a modification review if one or more of the following circumstances exists:

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Effective January 1, 2018, Illinois changed the number of cases subject to the statutory maintenance guidelines and the method for calculating maintenance in all pending divorce cases and for all divorces filed after January 1, 2018. Public Act 100-520, effective January 1, increased the combined income of divorcing individuals that would be subject to the statutory maintenance guidelines from $250,000 per couple to $500,000 per couple.

Read the rest of the article here: https://www.bestlawyers.com/article/new-year-ushers-in-new-formulas-for-calculating-maintenance-payments-in-divorce-proceedings/1839

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