Child Matters and Child Support Attorneys
Are you seeking a family law attorney in Decatur, Illinois? BRE Law strives to help clients reach an amicable resolution in child matters including:
- Parental responsibility (custody)
- Parenting time (visitation)
- Child support
- College support
- Juvenile abuse (JA)
Child support is a matter within the discretion of the trial court. Section 505 (a)(1) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act establishes guidelines to determine the level of child support.
Effective July 1, 2017, Illinois transitioned to an Income Shares Model formula to determine the amount of support allocated to each child. These new rules consider the combined income of both parents, as well as the number of children that are supported by those parents. Please click here to read more about this new Illinois law, and how the new child support method may impact you and your children.
Parental Responsibility (Formerly Custody and Visitation)
The term “custody” is often confused with the amount of time a parent spends with a child. For example, parents can have joint parental responsibility of a child with only one parent having parenting time with the child most of the time.
The law on custody and visitation changed on January 1, 2016. Now, in Illinois, legal custody concerns decision-making power. The question is who is going to make the major decisions in the child’s life? Answer: one parent alone or both parents together. The parties may share joint decision-making, which means they make the major decisions in their child’s life together. These decisions typically concern education, religion, medical decisions, and extra-curricular activities.
Allocation of Parental Responsibility: The parents can agree upon, or the court will award one or both parents decision-making ability for their children. This includes, but is not limited to, where the child goes to school, what religion the child is, who the child’s medical care providers are and what kind of medical care the child receives.
Joint Decision-Making (Formerly Joint Custody): Joint parenting is not for everyone. Joint parenting is a dynamic relationship between the parents. The court only awards Joint Parenting if the parents exhibit an ability to effectively and consistently cooperate in matters that directly affect the child or children. Joint parenting means that both parents make all the major decisions related to the child together. Joint parenting does not mean the parties have equal parenting time. Typically, in a joint parenting agreement, one parent will be given what is called “primary physical custody.” This just means that the child will reside mostly with that parent. Typically, the residential custodian will receive child support from the non-residential custodian.
A court will determine custody based on what is in the child’s best interest. The Court will consider the following factors in determining what is in a child’s best interest:
- The wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision-making
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
- The ability of the parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision-making
- The level of each parent’s participation in past significant decision-making with respect to the child
- Any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to decision-making with respect to the child
- The wishes of the parents
- The child’s needs
- The distance between the parents’ residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent’s and the child’s daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to
cooperate in the arrangement
- Wether a restriction on decision-making is appropriate
- The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child
- The physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s parent directed against the child
- The occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child’s household
- Whether one of the parents is a sed offender, and if so, the exact nature of the offense and what, if any, treatment in which the parent has suffessfully participated; and
- Any other factor the court expressly finds to be relevant.
- The court will not consider the conduct of a parent that does not affect his/her relationship to the child.
The non-custodial/non-residential parent is entitled to reasonable parenting time rights. Parenting time means in-person time spent with the child and the parent.
In order for these rights to be restricted in any manner (including supervised parenting time), the parenting time must seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, or moral health.
Parenting time will normally include weekly time, holiday time and vacation time. If the parties cannot agree on a schedule, the court will determine a schedule based on the best interest of the child.
A parent’s right to time with his or her child is an incredibly important right that the courts are obligated to protect. In this area, the Judges attempt to give the non-primary parent as much parenting time as possible taking into consideration the best interest of the children.
There are serious consequences when a party has willfully and without reason denied another party court ordered parenting time. Failure to pay child support as ordered does not entitle the payee parent to withhold parenting time from the payor parent. The status of child support payments does not affect the parental rights of the non-custodial/ non-residential parent. Likewise, a payor parent cannot withhold child support payments because the payee parent is denying parenting time. No matter what the parenting schedule is a parent has an affirmative obligation to financially support the child.
While a parent’s right to see his/her child is a right which the court must protect, the court also has an obligation to protect the child from harm. Parenting time can be restricted, supervised or denied if a parent exercises it in a manner that is harmful to child. Examples of behavior that could restrict parenting time is exposing the child to obvious danger, such as driving while intoxicated with the child in the car.
The BRE Law Family Law Blog
Illinois recently changed how child support is calculated. The new Income Shares Model for determining Illinois child support may affect you or your child. Please click here to read more, or contact BRE Law’s experienced family law attorneys to discuss this new formula.