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Belleville Family Law Blog

Flexible child custody and visitation plans can benefit all

When Illinois couples divorce, resolving all material issues can be challenging. Property division often brings about contention, but is usually over and done with once decisions are made. Conversely, child-related issues never actually get completely resolved because parenting goes on. Even couples who share child custody and visitation equally will likely find that parenting issues will arise as the children's needs change over the years.

For that reason, it simply makes good sense to have professional guidance when drafting a parenting plan. While it must protect the rights of each parent to spend quality time with the children, it must also be focused on the best interests of the children. The most difficult part of this process is making sure it is flexible enough to allow for changing circumstances without jeopardizing the parenting time of one parent and without losing sight of the interests of the children.

Divorce and the role financial secrets play

Money can be the source of happiness, but some Illinois couples might have experienced the opposite. It is often said that many a divorce has followed financial arguments between spouses. While those who are knowledgeable recommend honesty and disclosure about finances throughout a marriage, a recent nationwide survey revealed money secrets that are kept by many people.

The top of the list of money secrets revealed by the survey was secret bank accounts. More than a third of respondents who admitted to lying to their spouses about money indicated that they had secret bank accounts. Next on the list involved credit card debt. Although people of all ages said they concealed significant credit card debts, it was clear that these secrets are more often kept by females.

New child support law may make it easier for some to comply

Non-custodial parents in Illinois may find the financial burden eased following a change to current law that was signed earlier this month. Child support has just become more affordable, and lawmakers say the goal was for the obligations of child support to be more equitable. In the future, child support orders will no longer be based solely on the income of the non-custodial parent.

Until now, child support in Illinois was calculated as a percentage of the non-custodial parent's income and the number of children. For one child, it was 20 percent of his or her net income, increasing to 28, 32 and 40 percent for every additional child. So, a parent of four children had to pay 40 percent of his or her wages in child support.

Property division: What about the family business?

It is only natural for both parties in an Illinois divorce to be concerned about their post-divorce financial stability. What happens during the property division process will largely determine that outcome. Everybody wants to live comfortably as they move into a new life. One bone of contention in many divorces is shares in family businesses that were built by the hard work and sacrifices of both spouses.

Many divorcing spouses are shocked to learn that they are regarded as no more than ordinary employees of the businesses that were part of their lives for years. The truth is that without his or her name on the ownership documents of the company, that spouse will have no legal claim to a fair share of it. Even if the other party says his or her spouse is a part owner, it will not constitute legal ownership.

Divorce may be the only option

Being in an unhappy marriage is something not wished upon anybody. Although divorce might be considered, Illinois residents will also know that it could be a traumatic and costly experience. However, certain circumstances make divorce the only option -- particularly if there are also children involved.

Living in a household in which alcohol, drugs, gambling and sex form part of the daily life can be devastating and extremely damaging to children. Financial and legal problems along with emotional and physical abuse are not uncommon ingredients in such a lifestyle. Abusive relationships are typically repetitive cycles to which there is no end, and could develop into life-threatening situations. These are often circumstances from which the only escape is divorce.

Do grandparents have rights under Illinois family law?

Grandparents in Illinois can petition the court to grant access or visitation time with grandchildren. However, Illinois family law does not give grandparents any rights to time with their grandchildren. Some believe that the divorce of the parents of the grandchildren can be as traumatic for the grandparents as it is for the grandchildren. In many cases, one set of grandparents is cut out of the lives of the children as soon as the parents go their separate ways.

Unfortunately, subdued rifts between parents-in-law and sons or daughters-in-law sometimes only surface upon divorce, often causing the severing of ties. One example is a mother who did not think her daughter was ready to have her ears pierced. The child then asked the grandmother who allowed the piercing, to the dismay of her daughter-in-law. When the couple divorced later, that incident caused the mother to alienate the grandchildren from the grandmother.

Can child custody and visitation be based on intelligence?

The right to have a child and raise a family is one that is fundamental in American law. Few people even question their parental rights, and feel confident that if they provide a safe and loving home for their children, they will face no challenges to their ability to raise their kids as they see fit. There are cases, however, in which parents in Illinois and elsewhere have faced serious challenges to their child custody and visitation rights even when there is no evidence of abuse or neglect.

An example is found in a recent case in which a couple lost custody of two young children after state authorities determined that they were not mentally capable of providing sufficient care for the kids. The father receives Social Security checks for a mental disability, and has an estimated IQ of 66. The mother has been tested and assigned an IQ of 72. She was unaware of her first pregnancy until she went into labor and gave birth in her home, and believed that her discomfort was the result of a kidney condition. The average IQ ranges between 90 and 110.

Spousal maintenance could console financial concerns

When it comes to divorce you have a lot to consider. You don’t come to the conclusion to split lightly. You have concerns about the health and happiness of your children. You question what the future will hold as you’d be dismantling life as you know it. Finances are in the forefront of your mind. You wonder about the financial impact that separating will have—both at present and in the future.

The judge may determine that spousal maintenance is needed.

Midwest has eight of 15 cities with most divorced persons

Certainly Illinois residents who are married know that whether or not they remain married or get divorced really depends on factors within their marriage more than what other couples around them do. However, it can be interesting to know just how many people in a given area might actually get or be divorced. If nothing else, this may help someone going through a divorce to feel less alone and more understood during such a difficult experience.

A survey looked at data from 2015 and evaluated the divorces of residents in cities across the country with at least 10,000 people living in them. The survey then came up with a list of the 15 cities with the most divorced people per capita. Of those 15 cities, eight of them happen to be in the midwest although none are in Illinois. Coming in at number 13 is Independence, Missouri where 16.1 percent of all residents have been divorced. Three Ohio cities were on the list. In Youngstown, Hamilton and Canton, 16.3, 16.6 and 17.1 percent of people have been divorced, respectively.

Case challenges gender-based parental rights

Many may believe that Illinois residents who are in same-sex marriages can face the same challenges when getting divorced as do their heterosexual counterparts. To some degree, this may be true. When it comes to identifying parental rights and associated parenting time, however, this may not necessarily be the case.

Every state may approach same-sex divorce differently but there still appears to be a lot of inconsistency and lack of clarity around how to handle parental rights in a same-sex divorce. Two cases in Arizona illustrate just how complex it can be. One involves a lesbian couple in which one spouse biologically had a child via a sperm donor. The non-biological parent was named on the child's birth certificate yet her paternity rights were denied when getting divorced based upon her gender.

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Courtney, Clark & Mejias, P.C.
104 South Charles Street
Belleville, IL 62220

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