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What Are the Consequences for Not Paying Child Support?Child support payments are mandatory for parents who are divorced or separated from each other. Unlike with the optional spousal maintenance payments, child support is meant to help pay for the expenses related to raising the children, such as food, clothing, and healthcare. A parent who does not pay their share of child support may be depriving their children of the resources needed to grow up healthy and safe. Because of this, Illinois has a range of severe consequences for parents who do not comply with their child support order:

  1. Garnishment: If a parent does not pay child support, a court may order that the noncompliant parent’s financial assets be seized. The most common method is wage garnishment, which can be achieved by filing an Income Withholding for Support request with the parent’s employer. If wage garnishment is not an option, the court may seize funds from a bank account, intercept property tax refunds, put a lien on a property, or hire a private collection agency.
  2. Driver’s License Suspension: When a parent is more than 90 days past due on child support payments, the court may revoke the parent’s driving privileges until they have caught up on payments. It also has the authority to revoke or deny an application for a U.S. passport or professional license.
  3. Criminal Prosecution: Nonpayment of child support becomes a criminal offense in Illinois if a parent has gone more than six months without paying or owes more than $5,000. This is a Class A misdemeanor and will most likely result in a fine. However, the offense becomes a Class 4 felony if the parent flees the state to avoid payment, is more than one year late on payments, or owes more than $20,000. A Class 4 felony in Illinois is punishable by one-to-three years in prison and fines.

Contact a McHenry County Family Law Attorney

If your co-parent is not paying child support, you can enforce payment by contacting the Illinois Division of Child Support Services or filing a complaint in court. If you are in danger of falling behind on child support payments, you need to explain to the court why you are unable to make the payments. You may be able to modify your child support order if the payments are unreasonable given your financial circumstances. Either way, you need the assistance of a Crystal Lake, Illinois, family law lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, to resolve your child support issue. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Posted on in Family Law

How to Contest Paternity of a ChildIllinois law has presumptions of paternity that help men establish their rights as fathers. If a child was conceived or born during a marriage, the husband of the mother is presumed to be the biological father of the child. If the parents are unmarried, the father can sign a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage (VAP) form that will list him as the biological father on the child’s birth certificate. However, these same laws can become an obstacle if a man believes that he is not the biological father of a child and does not want to be responsible for the child.

Paternity and Marriage

Most husbands have no reason to believe that they are not the biological father to their wife’s child unless they used a sperm donor to conceive the child. If you learn that your wife conceived the child through infidelity, you may understandably be upset and wish to have nothing to do with your wife or the child. However, you cannot sever your financial obligation to the child by divorcing your wife and proving that you are not the biological father. You would still be responsible for paying child support until the child becomes an adult. To deny paternity in Illinois, you must:

  • Sign a denial of parentage form
  • Identify the biological father of the child
  • Have the biological father sign a VAP form

Illinois wants a child to have two legal parents to ensure that they are financially supported by more than one parent. If you cannot identify the biological father, you will still be the legal father of the child, even if a DNA test proves that you are not the biological father. If the biological father refuses to sign the VAP form, you will have to challenge your paternity in court if you want to transfer parental obligations to the biological father.

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Additional Expenses Can Increase Child Support ObligationIllinois’ child support system uses an income shares schedule to calculate the monetary obligation that co-parents share each month. The rows in the table have monetary ranges that represent the total of the parents’ combined monthly incomes, and columns show the number of children that the parents have. To read the table, you would find the row where your combined incomes fit and choose the column based on how many children you have. That monetary total is Illinois’ estimate for how much you together should pay towards supporting your children each month. However, that number may not be the final child support total. The basic total excludes some child expenses because they are not always necessary. A family court may add these expenses to your total when they apply to your case.

Childcare

Childcare can be a necessary expense when your children are too young to be left alone and there is not an adult available to watch over them. For child support, childcare may include:

  • Daycare;
  • Before and after-school programs; and
  • Day camps when children are on break from school.

Including childcare as part of child support does not allow parents to choose an unreasonably expensive service. The court will judge whether the expense is reasonable based on the parents’ incomes. Parents also must have a reason why they cannot watch the children, such as working, looking for a job, or attending an educational or vocational program.

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Posted on in Family Law

Four Keys to Co-Parenting After DivorceYou may have filed for divorce in order to free yourself from your spouse, but both of you will remain connected as co-parents to your children. As much as you may dislike each other, you need to cooperate in raising your children. Your parenting agreement lays out the technical terms of how you will share your parental responsibilities, such as a parenting schedule and decision-making powers. On a personal level, there are four keys to making a co-parenting agreement work:

  1. Mutual Respect: You must respect your former spouse’s role as a parent to your children, who love and admire him or her. Speaking poorly of your co-parent around your children can be hurtful to them and ultimately alienate them from you. Complaining about your co-parent or contradicting his or her rules is giving your children permission to disrespect your co-parent. You should keep your opinions about your co-parent private from your children.
  2. Consistency: Your children should have consistent routines and rules in each of your households. Meals and bedtime should follow a familiar schedule. The children should have similar expectations about appropriate behavior with each parent. Consistency helps children adjust to having two homes. When one parent is too lenient with his or her discipline, it undermines the discipline that the other parent is trying to instill.
  3. Communication: You are not parenting in a vacuum. You need to know what is happening with your children when they are with your co-parent. A child may have a problem that requires you to work together. You must be able to talk to your co-parent about your children in a peaceful and constructive manner. Keep the conversations brief and focused on your children. Try communicating by email or text if having a live conversation is too difficult.
  4. Flexibility: Following the rules of your parenting agreement is important, but there are times when it is practical to allow exceptions. Your co-parent may ask to see your children on a different day than normal because of a conflict in his or her schedule. He or she may want to modify the agreement because it is not working well. Being reasonably flexible in your parenting schedule may help you when you need a favor from your co-parent. Most importantly, consider whether your parenting arrangement still works best for your children when presented with a change of circumstances.

Contact a McHenry County Family Law Attorney

It is important for co-parents to make decisions that are in the best interest of their children. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, family law attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you create a parenting agreement and modify it when your children’s needs change. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Divorced Parents Must Coordinate Vacation PlansWhether it is for spring break or over the summer, many parents are already making vacation plans. Children of a recent divorce can benefit from a fun trip because it is a chance to create happy family memories. However, there are different factors to consider when planning a vacation as a single parent than when you were married. You need to work out these complications well in advance so that nothing gets in the way of giving your children the vacation that you promised.

Parenting Schedule

Trying to fit your vacation within your normal parenting schedule could limit where you can go and how long the trip can last. Divorced parents commonly create separate vacation parenting schedules. You can do this by:

  • Scheduling designated vacation time for each parent when creating your parenting agreement during your divorce;
  • Modifying your parenting schedule to create vacation times; or
  • Entering a written agreement to deviate from your parenting schedule in order to allow a longer stay with one parent.

Your co-parent will likely expect to receive additional parenting time at another date to make up for his or her loss of parenting time during your vacation. You should not enter an informal agreement to modify your parenting time. You need documentation to prove your agreement if your co-parent later accuses you of denying his or her time with the children.

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