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Wheaton, IL 60189
The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.
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Wheaton child support lawyerIf you are a single parent, you know just how difficult it can be to pay for child-related expenses on your own. Making ends meet without financial support from your child’s other parent can be exhausting. According to Illinois law, both parents are expected to financially contribute to their child’s upbringing even if the parents are unmarried or divorced. A parent is also expected to provide financial support even if he or she does not have parenting time, or visitation rights, with the child. If your child’s other parent is not paying child support, there are several actions you can take to get the financial assistance you and your child need.

Establishing Child Support

The state of Illinois only has the authority to enforce child support payments that have been legally established. If you and your child’s other parent had an informal agreement regarding child support, this is likely unenforceable. To start receiving payments, you will need to obtain an official court order for child support. However, to get an order for child support, your child’s other parent must be legally recognized as his or her parent. If your child’s father is not paying child support and paternity has not been established, you will need to legally name your child’s father before you can obtain a child support order. Depending on your particular circumstances, this may be as simple as having the father sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). If the father contests his paternity, it may necessitate a DNA paternity test or require other steps.

Enforcing a Current Child Support Order

If you already have a child support order, but your child’s other parent is violating the order, you have a right to seek enforcement. Parents who violate a court order for child support can be held in contempt of court and face criminal consequences. However, going through the court system is not always the best way to enforce a child support order. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) can help parents with a variety of needs including:

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Wheaton child custody attorneyAccording to Illinois law, both a child’s parents have a right to parenting time unless there is some reason that a child’s safety would be at risk around the parent. A parent may lose his or her right to parenting time if he or she has physically, emotionally, or sexually abused the child. Sadly, some parents attempt to use false accusations of child abuse as leverage in a child custody dispute. Not only do unfounded allegations of abuse rob a parent of his or her right to spend time with his or her child, but they also have devastating effects on the child. If you are in the midst of a divorce or child custody dispute and your child’s other parent is falsely accusing you of neglect or abuse, speak to a skilled family law attorney as soon as possible.

Gather Evidence

It is hard to believe that a parent would ever resort to fabricating stories of child abuse to manipulate a child custody case, but unfortunately, this scenario is not unheard of. Parents who do not want to share parental responsibilities and parenting time may accuse the other parent of hurting the child or even coach the child to repeat the allegations of abuse. If you have been accused of child abuse, you need to start gathering evidence that will help prove your innocence. This may include text messages, voicemails, letters, and other correspondence between you and the other parent as well as examples of communication between you and the children. Compile a list of family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, daycare workers, and other people who can vouch that you are a loving, non-abusive parent. It is also important to keep track of the times and dates that the children have been under your care. The more information you have, the more likely it is that you can use this information to prove inconsistencies and lies in the other parent’s story.

Comply With Any Orders of Protection

It is possible that the child’s other parent will file an order of protection or restraining order against you. If you are the subject of an order of protection that prohibits you from seeing your child or staying in your home, you may understandably be frustrated and outraged. However, it is important to comply with the court order. By violating the terms of the order, you risk being arrested and weakening your case, even if you have never abused your child. Following the terms of the order will help demonstrate that you are a law-abiding citizen. Never confront the other parent or anyone else involved in the allegations against you as this can easily be used against you as evidence of violence or mental instability.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerFamily law mediation is a process during which a divorcing couple attempts to resolve issues such as the division of assets, allocation of parental responsibilities, and spousal maintenance. The couple works with a specially trained family law mediator who helps them negotiate the issues, find common ground, and reach practical solutions. Mediation can be a very useful tool in reaching a divorce settlement; however, it is not right for everyone. There are some situations in which mediation may not be an appropriate choice. In cases such as these, it is recommended that the spouses work with their respective attorneys to reach a resolution about the terms of their divorce.  

Uncooperative Spouses  

Some married couples get a divorce and the split is mostly amicable. The spouses may still have some bitterness toward each other, but they are willing to put those feelings aside to focus on resolving their divorce issues. Other divorcing spouses have deep feelings of hatred or vengeance. If you and your spouse are not able to be in the same room without screaming at each other or your spouse simply refuses to cooperate, mediation may be futile. Mediation is also not the ideal choice when a spouse has a drug or alcohol addiction that prevents him or her from entering into mediation with a clear head.

Hidden Assets and Financial Deceit

The terms of a divorce are largely based on each spouse’s finances. In order for the spouses to determine a fair and reasonable division of property during mediation, each spouse must disclose his or her assets, income, and debts. The court also uses this information when calculating child support payments. If a spouse hides assets, underreports income, exaggerates debts, or otherwise lies about his or her finances, any resolution reached during mediation will be based on false information.

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DuPage County family law attorney parental rights

When a mother gives birth to a child, she automatically receives legal privileges and responsibilities referred to as “parental rights.” If the mother is married, her husband is presumed to be the baby’s father and therefore he gains parental rights as well. Unmarried fathers can establish paternity and obtain parental rights by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). However, there are some circumstances in which a parent may wish to give up his or her parental rights. Often, a parent seeks to terminate his or her parental rights so the child can be adopted.  

Voluntarily Giving Up Your Parenting Rights

Parental rights include the right to parenting time, the right to object to the child being placed for adoption, and much more. However, being a child’s legal parent may also incur certain responsibilities such as a child support obligation. Children can only have two legal parents. If a stepparent wishes to adopt his or her stepchild, the other parent may need to terminate his or her parental rights. The court also has the authority to terminate a parent’s rights against his or her will in situations involving abandonment, abuse, or other issues that endanger the child. 

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DuPage County divorce attorney

When a person files a petition for divorce, called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Illinois, he or she must serve his or her spouse with the divorce petition. This sometimes involves one spouse simply handing the paperwork to the other spouse or it may be accomplished through a process server or other qualified third party. However, there are some circumstances where serving a spouse a divorce petition may be nearly impossible. When a spouse cannot be located, you will need to take special steps in order to be granted a divorce.

Attempting to Find a Missing Spouse

If you want to file for divorce but you do not know where your spouse is, you may be able to serve notice of the divorce through the newspaper. If the spouse still does not respond, you may be able to obtain a divorce without his or her participation. However, before either of those things happen, you will need to make a genuine effort to locate your spouse. You will also need to list all of the attempts you have made to find your spouse in an affidavit and file it with the court. It is recommended that you take at least the following steps to locate your spouse:

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