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Wheaton, IL 60189
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Recent blog posts

Wheaton divorce lawyerChild support payments after a divorce in Illinois are determined via the Income Shares model. This calculation method takes into account the parents’ income and if the parents have a shared parenting arrangement, each parent’s allotted parenting time. Either parent may request a modification, or adjustment, to the child support order, however, these requests are not always granted. Sometimes, a parent may try to change a child support order in such a way that it places an unfair burden on the recipient parent. There are some situations in which it may be best to contest a child support modification request.

How Are Child Support Orders Changed?

Illinois child support orders are entitled to a modification review every three years. During a modification review, the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services (IHFS) evaluates each parent’s financial circumstances and determines whether or not a child support order should be adjusted. Child support orders may also qualify for a modification if there is a “substantial change in circumstances” that necessitates the change or if the current order does not provide for the child’s healthcare needs. If a parent requests a modification but the other parent disagrees, he or she may contest the child support modification.

Reasons for Challenging a Child Support Modification

A parent cannot ask to reduce his or her child support obligation unless there is a valid reason. Job loss or a significant reduction in income is often cited as the justification for requesting such changes. However, if a parent quits his or her job, takes a voluntary pay cut, or chooses to work fewer hours, this is typically not a valid reason to request a lowered child support obligation. If a parent loses his or her job or is laid off involuntarily, he or she must make a good faith effort to find adequate employment. If a parent has the ability to earn a living, he or she cannot simply choose not to work in order to avoid paying child support. It may also be a good idea to contest a child support modification if the paying parent claims that he or she cannot afford the current child support order but is also spending money on extravagant and unnecessary purchases.

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Wheaton child custody lawyerRaising children is one of the most difficult responsibilities a person can have. Parenting duties are often made even more challenging when parents must co-parent after a high-conflict divorce. If you have recently divorced or are planning to end your marriage soon, you may worry about how you and your ex will manage parenting duties. Effective co-parenting with a spouse who is uncooperative may seem like an unachievable task, but it is possible.

Consider Parallel Parenting

Significant research shows that consistent parental arguing and fighting dramatically impact children – even if the parents are divorced. If you and your ex cannot interact without the conversation devolving into name-calling or insults, consider parallel parenting. Parallel parenting is a parenting style in which the parents each have their own relationship with their children but parent-to-parent communication is kept to a minimum. A strong parenting plan that addresses parenting time schedules and other child-related matters using specific language is key to an effective parallel parenting arrangement.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

If you and your former spouse need to communicate about your child’s extracurricular schedules, medical appointments, or other issues, written communication may be easier and more effective than a phone call or face-to-face interaction. Using email or text messages to communicate about your child may also act as a record of informing the other parent about key information. For example, the other parent cannot claim that you never told him or her about your child’s school play if you have the email to prove that you did. Co-parenting applications such as Cozi, OurFamilyWizard, 2Houses, and Parentship allow you to keep messages, schedules, and calendars in one location on your phone, tablet, or computer.

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Wheaton adoption lawyerAdoption is a beautiful gift that allows a child to have the safe, loving family he or she deserves. If you and your family are considering adopting a child, you likely have a myriad of questions about the process. One issue you may be thinking about is whether or not to have an open adoption. In an open adoption, the adopted child’s biological parent(s) continue to have contact with the child. The communication between the biological parents and the child may involve anything from a few letters or emails a year to frequent in-person contact.

Advantages and Disadvantages of an Open Adoption

In a closed adoption, the biological parents do not communicate with their child or the adoptive parents once the adoption is finalized. In an open adoption, the biological parents continue to have some degree of contact with the child. There are certainly benefits to open adoption. The child may feel more secure and have a better sense of identity. The adoptive parents can benefit from the biological parents’ support and friendship as well as the ability to ask the biological parents questions about their family medical history. However, having an open adoption can also be tricky to navigate. The biological parents and adoptive parents may not see eye to eye about the child’s education, extracurricular activities, religion, or overall upbringing. Honest communication and firm boundaries are the keys to successful open adoption.

The Child’s Best Interests Must Come First

There are many different reasons why a child may be placed for adoption. In some cases, the child’s biological parents realize that they are incapable of adequately caring for the child. Other times, the child is removed from the home because the parents were abusive, neglectful, suffered from substance abuse addiction, or were otherwise a risk of harm to the child. The most important factor to consider when deciding the level of involvement the biological parents should have in the child’s life is the child’s best interests. If the child’s mental or physical well-being could be harmed by spending time with his or her biological parents, it may be best to limit the biological parents’ degree of participation in his or her life.

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Wheaton child custody lawyerApproximately one out of every five adults in the United States suffers from a mental illness. Anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder are some of the most common mental health problems in the United States. Although many people suffering from mental health issues are fully capable of being safe, loving parents, mental illness can influence child custody cases. In some situations, parents involved in a dispute about parental responsibilities or parenting time are required to undergo a mental health evaluation or psychological examination.

When Are Psychological Evaluations Required?

Illinois courts make all child custody decisions based on the child’s best interests. If the court has reason to believe that a parent’s mental health condition may pose a risk to the child, the court has the discretion to order psychological testing. If a parent believes that the other parent has psychological problems that may endanger the child, the parent can request a mental health evaluation as well. The court may approve or deny this request. Typically, if a parent requests that the other parent undergo a psychological exam, the parent who made the request is responsible for paying the fees associated with the exam.

What Happens During a Mental Health Examination?

During a mental health assessment, a qualified psychological evaluator such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker conducts an evaluation of a parent’s mental status and overall mental health. This process typically involves an interview during which the evaluator asks the parent questions about his or her mental health history as well as his or her thoughts, feelings, and actions. During the assessment, the evaluator may measure the parent’s cognitive skills, memory, and ability to think clearly. The evaluator may also gather information by observing the parent’s behavior. In some cases, psychological testing is used to determine whether or not a parent meets the diagnostic criteria for a certain mental illness. The results of the mental health evaluation will be used by the court in conjunction with other evidence during child custody determinations.

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Wheaton parenting plan lawyerDivorcing parents in Illinois are asked to create a “parenting plan” that describes each parent’s child-related rights and responsibilities moving forward. Reaching an agreement about the elements of the parenting plan can be very challenging. Many divorcing parents disagree about how parenting time or parental responsibilities should be distributed. They may worry that they will not get to spend as much time with their child as they want to. One element of the parenting plan that many parents overlook is the “the right of first refusal.” Understanding this important right is crucial to maximizing the benefits of your parenting plan.  

Required Elements

If you are a parent who is planning to divorce, you and your spouse will be encouraged to present a parenting plan to the court. This plan must include a number of provisions, including but not limited to:

  • Allocation of significant child-related decision-making responsibilities

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