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What to Know About Child Custody Laws in Illinois

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Children are the number one priority for parents. When spouses divorce, it’s up to the courts to decide which parent is granted parental responsibilities. As of 2016, Illinois’ child custody laws utilize the term “parental responsibilities” as a replacement for the familiar term of “custody.”

Rearing children is a momentous responsibility, one that requires time, energy, and good decision-making skills. Financial stability, too, goes a long way in meeting the needs of a child. The day-to-day care of a child also involves attention to their daily needs and wants.

Parental Responsibilities

Family-Walking-Kids-ParentsWhen a parent is responsible for a child, the adult must ensure their kids are properly nourished, go to school, clean and dressed properly, and has access to medical care. Aside from the practical responsibilities, adults also are tasked with more subjective forms of care.

A child must engage in play, and the parent is the one to arrange this. When the child misbehaves, the parent shoulders the weight of dispensing appropriate and fair punishment. Chores are to be delegated to children. Plus, when away, the parent must arrange for suitable supervision.

A parent who is granted parental responsibilities of a child is accountable for properly rearing the youth in accordance with accepted societal expectations, many of which are aforementioned. To achieve this end, joint and sole-decision making power are types of parental responsibilities that courts may grant.

What factors do the courts consider when deciding parental responsibilities?

Judges award parental responsibility based on the best interests of the child—rather than whether one parent is better or worse. Factors the courts consider include the desires of the parents to have parental responsibility and the wishes of the child when it comes to who has parental responsibility.

A child’s wish is given consideration but is rarely the last word. A mature child may voice a preference to remain with one parent in order to remain with friends, at the same school, or in a familiar setting. However, the courts have the final verdict when deciding parental responsibilities.

A good relationship with one parent is also an influencing factor. The courts evaluate the mental and physical well-being of those involved. The judge takes into serious account if one parent is a sex offender. Potential violence and domestic violence weigh heavily in the court’s decisions.

A parent afflicted by psychological or substance abuse problems is not immediately deemed unfit to receive parental responsibility. The courts will first evaluate if the individual is able to parent and willing to receive treatment. However, pursuing treatment does not automatically grant a parent the court’s favor.

Current Illinois parental responsibility laws view the mother and father as equally potential decision makers in the life of their child. When it comes to gender, Illinois laws are neutral. Historically, mothers were the primary caretakers, leaving fathers out in the cold when it came to winning custody battles.

What affects the court’s decision to grant joint or sole decision-making power?

Mother-Daughter-Smiling-LaughingFirst, it is important to understand the major decisions that affect the life of a child. Significant life decisions include schooling, religion, health matters, and extracurricular activities. When both parents can agree on decisions of significance, the judge is likely to grant joint decision-making power.

Belligerent spouses have many more reasons to quarrel when it comes to their child. Spouses who fail to get along when directing the life of their child are subject to a division of power. In hopes to circumvent future legal battles, judges will allocate sole decision-making power to one parent.

For more information on how to get sole custody of a child, check out this article.

Is it possible to change parental responsibilities?

If and when parents agree to make a change to their parental responsibilities, the judicial processes run much smoother and quicker. For legal changes to occur, the parents are expected to file court papers. Alterations to the responsibilities may be caused by various factors.

Parenting time changes, for instance. Additional triggers include instances when a different parent pays child support or makes the everyday decisions regarding the life of the child. Also included is when a parent decides upon a new living situation or way of raising the child.

When changes to parental responsibilities occur under argumentative circumstances, the battling parents must wait two years from the date of the original order of parental responsibilities to request a change—the exception is a situation when the child is in danger.

Father-with-Daughter-PlayingEspecially if the child is faring poorly in the current living situation, the courts will take swift action to remove the child from it. On the other hand, if a child thrives and is well-adjusted, no changes are made. A stable environment is important in the eyes of the courts.

What is parenting time?

Another type of parenting responsibility is parenting time. Prior to 2016, Illinois laws used the term “visitation”. Judges divide time spent with the child, which may not be equal, between the two parents. Parents are free to request alterations to parenting time without a minimum waiting period.

Work with a Child Custody Attorney

Children of divorce require attention and care, and their needs are always given priority among the parental responsibilities and child custody lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Our experienced lawyers are invested in winning your custody battle fairly and with due diligence, so that your family returns to normal life quickly.

Our family lawyers remain up-to-date on the changing laws in Illinois; the result is that our child custody lawyers are prepared at every hearing to best represent our clients. Attorneys from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. are skilled in presenting our clients in the most favorable light.

The dedication by the family law attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. is rewarded with winning countless parental responsibilities cases. We deliver incomparable expertise in the complex field of family law plus thoroughness during the investigation process to all our clients.

Cheri-Costa-Family-Child-Custody-Attorney-Oak-Lawn-IL-819x1024Consult a reliable family law attorney from the reputable firm of Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. if you expect to be involved in a child custody dispute. Our knowledgeable legal team serves the families living in the surrounding areas of Oak Lawn, Illinois.

Get a Free Consultation

To receive a free consultation for your parental responsibilities case, contact Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!

How to File for Child Support in Illinois

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Children must be supported by their parents, whether the parents are divorced, separated, or unmarried. In order to allow each child to be adequately supported by parents, states enforce certain laws applicable to child support.

What is Child Support?Mother-Daughter-Smiling-Laughing

Child support goes beyond covering the basics, such as food, clothing and shelter. Rather, the financial support one parent pays to the other covers a range of expenses that allows for the well-being of the child. Examples of how child support may be used include the following: education-related expenses (uniforms, books, tuition fees, tutors), medical costs (medical, dental and vision insurance), childcare expenses, basic entertainment (games, Internet, movies), extracurricular activities (Girl Scouts, summer camp, clubs) and even college expenses in some situations.

How Much Does Child Support Cost?

The amount of child support one parent pays the other is determined by a set of guidelines specific to the state of Illinois. The parent paying child support can expect to pay a percentage of his or her net income. For instance, in Illinois, courts follow a set percentage that increases with the number of children needing support. Non-custodial parents who pay child support in Illinois pay:

  • 20% for one child
  • 28% for two children
  • 32% for three children

This formula is set in place in Illinois; however most other states have updated their guidelines to include the net income of both parents. Illinois law may alter in the future, as well.

Adjustments to Child Support

Adjustments to the above child support formula may be made in the event of a child’s specific educational needs, the child’s financial needs and the physical and emotional condition of the child. A high-earning parent may pay more than the aforementioned guideline, while a parent with low-earning power will pay far less.

Parents will pay child support based on their net income, whether earned or unearned. Examples of income include investments, wages, commissions, and self-employment income. Parents who expect to pay child support can estimate the minimum amount of support expected by filling out the Child Support Obligation form, which is available on the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services.

Department of Healthcare and Family Services

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services handles child support cases in Illinois. The Division of Child Support Services is an Illinois agency that is responsible for numerous child support agencies throughout the state. Any of these nine regional offices offers a locale for parents to travel to in order to file for child support in Illinois.

Illinois is heavily involved in child support cases, with the state establishing paternity, locating a noncustodial parent and enrolling a child in a health insurance program, among other scenarios relevant to the child.

Applying for Child Support

An application for child support services starts the process to obtain child support in Illinois. Keep in mind that going through the Division of Child Support Services only helps a parent receive child support and not custody or visitation rights.

An alternative to filling out an application with the Division of Child Support Services to file for child support is to hire a lawyer. A family law attorney is more expensive than going through the Illinois agency. However, a lawyer can take the child support case to court quicker and better represent you.

Once you fill out the online application for child support, it is necessary to deliver it personally, by mail or via fax. Government agencies establish deadlines for paperwork to be submitted. Be sure to adhere to any and all deadlines provided on your application. Any difficulties that prevent you from submitting the necessary paperwork on time can best be handled by contacting the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Speak to the staff member and keep a record of the name of the person you spoke with, the date and time of the call, and any relevant notes.

Waiting for Approval

A request for child support is not answered immediately. Even a change in status will take time. Modifications in a current support order can only be achieved with proof of a parent’s change in circumstance.

In Illinois, child support is only permitted to continue until the child turns 18. If the child is still attending high school, the child support will terminate once the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever occurs first. Parents with children who are disabled or who are incapable of providing self-support may receive child support beyond the child’s 18th birthday. In Illinois, judges may even extend child support to help a parent with expenses for children attending college.

Family Law Attorneys

When your family will benefit from child support, contact the Oak Lawn area’s most trusted family law firm, Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Our lawyers will advocate for you and your child, using legal expertise and over 50 years of combined experience.

Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.child-custody-oak-lawn

Our attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. investigate and research parental responsibilities, including how much time is spent with the child, who cares for them when the child is sick and who ensures the child is in school. The results from these investigations help our legal team build a strong case and be prepared for all situations that arise. We will help you, as a parent, receive a fair resolution as quickly as possible, allowing you and your child to return to your daily lives.

Laws change rapidly. The family law attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. stay up to date on current Illinois laws and apply them to your case. We are prepared for each hearing, as a result. While fighting for child support can be an uphill battle, the lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. will work with you throughout the process to offer a sense of relief.

We have a wealth of experience fighting fairly for the rights of mothers, fathers, and their children. A consultation is available to parents who are involved in child support cases.

Every Case is Unique

Fill out the form below to submit your case for a free consultation.

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Oak Lawn, IL 60453

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