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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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Firearms Restraining Order Takes Guns Away from Domestic ThreatsLast month’s deadly shooting at Mercy Hospital in Chicago shocked many in the community, but there were warning signs of the danger that the shooter posed. His former wife, one of the victims, had received an order of protection against him before divorcing him. Court records show that she told authorities that she feared her husband could threaten her with a gun because he had slept with a gun under his pillow and once pulled the gun on a realtor. Despite that and other reported incidents in which he threatened gun violence, the man had a concealed carry license and had legally purchased four guns in the last five years. Some wonder whether a firearms restraining order could have prevented the eventual shooting.

Protection from Gun Violence

Illinois passed a law earlier this year that created a firearms restraining order. As with an order of protection, a person can petition for a firearms restraining order without the subject having been arrested or charged for a violent offense. If the court grants the order, the subject must:

  • Turn over his or her firearms, Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, and concealed carry license; and
  • Not possess any firearms for the duration of the order, which usually is six months.

A legal firearms owner living with the subject is allowed to keep his or her firearms as long as they are secured so that the subject cannot access them.

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Illinois Fathers Near Bottom Nationally in Parenting TimeFathers’ rights advocates and some Illinois lawmakers are pushing for 50-50 parenting time to become the default when parents divorce or separate. Illinois law currently presumes that it is in a child’s best interest to spend a majority of the time with one parent unless proven otherwise. Fathers claim that this puts them at a disadvantage in receiving parenting time because mothers are more likely to have a majority of parenting time. A recent study by the child custody scheduling service Custody X Change seems to support the argument. The results ranked Illinois fathers as having one of the lowest percentages of parenting time amongst all of the U.S. states.

Study Findings

Custody X Change surveyed family law attorneys in the most populous county in each state to determine what the most common parenting plan is for that state. Researchers used cases with no extenuating circumstances, such as a long distance between the parents or legal limitations on parental rights. The study concluded that:

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