Category Archives: Child Support

Who Will Control Your Child's College Fund After Divorce?Divorce can disrupt the financial plans from your marriage, including savings you have accumulated for your child’s college expenses. If you have been making regular contributions to a college fund, you may worry about how you will continue to afford them on your individual income while also supporting yourself and your child. You should discuss your college savings plan with your spouse during your divorce negotiations, including who will control any existing savings and how to ensure that the money goes towards your child.

Types of Plans

Savings accounts from your marriage, such as a retirement plan, are considered marital assets because they are funded with marital income. Even if you keep control of the entire account after your divorce, you may need to compensate your spouse for half of the value of the account. A court may exclude your college savings account from your marital property if it classifies the account as a fund set aside for your children. The best way to do this is by creating a plan that is meant for college savings, such as a:

  • 529 savings plan;
  • Custodial 529;
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account; or
  • Trust in your child’s name.

Plan Control

If you created the college savings account before your divorce, you will need to decide which parent will be in charge of the account moving forward. Usually, one parent assumes total control of the account, though you can split the account and each receive half of its value. You can include conditions in your divorce agreement stating that:

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Which Circumstances Allow You to Modify Child Support Payments?Due to the overhaul of Illinois’ child support law a few years ago, some divorced or separated parents are working under a drastically different child support system than others:

  • For child support agreements created before July 1, 2017, the non-resident parent pays a percentage of his or her income, based on the number of children; and
  • For child support agreements created since July 1, 2017, the total child support obligation is determined by the parents’ combined incomes, and the non-resident parent pays a percentage of the obligation that is proportionate to his or her share of the combined incomes.

The new child support model would potentially reduce the payments of a parent who was using the previous child support model. However, the existence of the new law is not enough reason to allow a modification of a child support agreement. 

Recent Case

A parent needs to prove a significant change of circumstances to immediately modify a child support agreement, which is usually a change in income or expenses for either parent. In the recent case of In re Marriage of Salvatore, a divorced father thought he had enough of a change of circumstances to allow him to reduce his child support payments. The parents had completed their divorce in 2015, with the father paying $8,100 per month for child support. The mother was unemployed at the time of divorce but had since been employed as an office worker and nurse.

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What Happens to Child Support After Remarriage?Getting remarried is an exciting event because it signifies a resolution to your divorce in many ways. You have proven that you can find a new relationship. If you were receiving spousal maintenance, you can break that financial tie to your former spouse. However, your obligation to provide child support will remain, regardless of whether either of you gets remarried. There are limited circumstances in which the child support payments can be modified after one parent gets remarried.

Principles of Child Support

Divorced parents pay child support because they share a financial obligation to care for their children. That obligation will always remain with the two legal parents of the children and not with any new spouses. Your new spouse cannot become the legal parent of your children unless your co-parent relinquishes his or her parental rights and your new spouse adopts your children. Thus, courts have traditionally not considered the income of a new spouse when determining child support payments. However, an Illinois court ruling in 2014 broke with that tradition when it found that:

  • A parent’s financial resources can help determine his or her appropriate child support obligation; and
  • The income of the mother’s new husband counted as an increase in her financial resources.

Courts will not directly include your new spouse’s income when calculating your child support obligation. Instead, it will reasonably consider whether your current share of child support is fair if your new spouse’s income decreases the percentage of your income that you use for other expenses.

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Court Orders Retired Father to Pay Same Level of Child SupportLosing your job and being forced into retirement normally qualifies as a change of circumstances that will allow you to reduce your child support payments. The recent decision for In re Marriage of Verhines shows that a court will consider more than income to determine a parent’s child support obligation in high-income cases. The Illinois appellate court said that there were unique circumstances in this case as opposed to a normal request for child support relief.

Case Background

A 65-year-old divorced father of a teenage son initially requested a reduction of his child support payments in December 2015 after his forced termination from his previous position as an executive at a packaging company. The father was paying $3,043 per month based on his previous income but effectively entered retirement because he was unable to secure another full-time executive position at his age. A trial court reduced his child support payments to $1,700 per month, claiming that the father’s income was $78,000 per year and that he could not be expected to withdraw from his retirement benefits to maintain the same level of child support payments. He had previously taken $400,000 out of his retirement account to pay for personal expenses.

Decision Reversal

An Illinois appellate court recently overturned the trial court’s ruling and reinstated the original child support amount. The appellate court said that the trial court’s decision ignored key factors and used faulty logic:

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When Employers Fail to Withhold Former Spouse's PayYou can order your former spouse’s employer to withhold money from his or her pay if that former spouse is not making his or her required payments for child support or spousal maintenance. You must send your uniform order of support and a notice to withhold to your spouse’s employer. Once it receives the notice, the employer must:

  • Withhold money from your former spouse's paychecks, starting with the first pay period in the next 14 days; and
  • Send payments to a state disbursement unit within seven business days of the date that the former spouse is paid.

If the employer does not comply with the notice, you can file a third-party complaint against the employer for receipt of the missed payments and a $100 fine for each day that the employer did not comply.

Recent Example

In the case of In re Marriage of Schmidgall, a woman filed a complaint against her former husband’s employer for ignoring her notice to withhold for six months. The woman’s lawyer initially sent the notice to withhold by certified mail in May 2014, but the envelope was returned and marked “refused.” The lawyer sent two more notices in June and August, both of which were returned as “unclaimed.” The employer claims that it did not receive a notice until late December, after which it began to comply. Testimony in the case established that:

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Goostree Law Group

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