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Illinois Courts Cannot Discriminate Against Parents for Legal Marijuana UseA child’s safety with a parent is one of the factors that a family court will consider when allocating parental responsibilities during a divorce or separation. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services will also consider this when determining whether to let someone adopt a child or become their legal guardian. Illegal drug use in the home is a red flag that a parent may be irresponsible and creating a dangerous environment for a child. However, some of the assumptions on drug use will change starting in 2020, when Illinois officially legalizes the recreational use of marijuana.

No Discrimination Against Legal Users

The "Illinois Cannabis and Tax Act" includes a section that is titled “Discrimination prohibited.” The section states that the lawful use of marijuana under this act cannot be the “sole or primary basis or supporting basis” for limiting someone’s rights as a parent or right to adopt or become a guardian of a child. This means a court cannot reduce your parenting time or decision making responsibilities based on your co-parent complaining that you use recreational marijuana, as long as you use it in a legal and responsible manner. Likewise, the Illinois DCFS cannot cite your legal marijuana use as a reason for denying your adoption request.

Irresponsible Use

As with other legal drugs, marijuana use will still impact your parental fitness if you are irresponsible with it. A court may decide that your marijuana use is a danger to your children if:

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Technology Affecting the Way People DivorceDigital technology has changed how people interact with each other, which affects important relationships such as marriages. It may be a stretch to say that social media and phone use are causing people to get divorced, but they may be an obstacle to repairing a damaged marriage. Once people have decided to divorce, digital technology has changed the process – in helpful ways but also in ways that require caution. As a result, technology and communication have grown in importance as it relates to divorce.

Technology Leading Up to Divorce

Spending more time socializing on your digital devices usually means less time interacting with people in person such as your spouse. Direct communication is one of the key tools that couples use to keep their relationships strong and resolve differences between each other. Digital technology also creates new opportunities for marital conflicts, such as discovering that your spouse is having an affair with someone through electronic correspondences or has been using your money on hidden purchases.

Technology During a Divorce

We live in a digital information age that provides divorcees with more resources than ever before, including:

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Parenting Time Change Can Allow Child Support ModificationYou are allowed to modify the child support order from your divorce at any time as long as you can show that there has been a significant change of circumstances that makes the modification necessary. The change of circumstances is usually a change in the income of one of the parents or a change in the cost of supporting the children. However, a change in the division of parenting time may also be enough reason to modify your child support payment.

Shared Parenting

Illinois has a modified version of its child support formula that it uses when parents have a 60-40 division of parenting time or less, which qualifies as shared parenting. The paying parent does not need to provide as much support to the other parent because they are directly paying for more of the children’s expenses. Thus, it is appropriate to modify child support payments if the division of parenting time reaches the shared parenting threshold.

No Time Limit to Modify

A recent Illinois case shows that courts can misapply child support laws in ways that need to be corrected. In the case of In re Marriage of Izzo, a man sought to reduce his child support payments to his former wife based on three changes of circumstance:

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Seven Reasons Your Divorce Agreement Can Be Rejected in CourtIt can take weeks of negotiating and hashing out details with your spouse in order to create a divorce agreement that you are both satisfied with. The last thing you want is for the divorce court to tell you that the agreement is invalid or unenforceable, forcing you to make corrections and delaying the completion of your divorce. A divorce agreement is a contract between former spouses, and there are several ways that a contract can be deemed invalid:

  1. Illegality: Divorce agreements must adhere to Illinois’ laws in order to be approved. For instance, you are not allowed to waive a parent’s obligation to pay child support or to treat assets in a way that is meant to defraud a third party.
  2. Unconscionability: A court may reject a divorce agreement that it believes is unfair or inequitable. This most often occurs in the division of property, which Illinois law states must be equitable. The court will not allow one spouse to take advantage of the other through an agreement that is one-sided or leaves one spouse in a much weaker financial position than the other.
  3. Nondisclosure: A party in a divorce may try to gain an advantage by hiding assets that should be included as part of the marital property or accounted for when calculating child support or spousal maintenance. The divorce agreement will be invalid if you can prove that your spouse withheld information that would have changed how you settled your divorce.
  4. Coercion: It is illegal for your spouse to force you to sign a divorce agreement through the threat of violence or blackmail. Any agreement that is reached through coercion is unenforceable as long as you can prove that the coercion occurred.
  5. Undue Influence: A more subtle version of coercion, undue influence occurs if your spouse pressures you to accept a divorce agreement by taking advantage of the power dynamic in your relationship. For instance, your spouse may control the money in your marriage and prevent you from hiring your own divorce lawyer to represent you during the negotiations.
  6. Mistakes: An error in the written agreement may force you to make corrections before the court will approve it. A divorce agreement is too important of a document to allow it to be approved if there are inconsistencies or sections that are confusing.
  7. Incapacity: Both sides must be capable of understanding the divorce agreement that they are signing. A court will reject an agreement if one of the spouses was incapacitated due to injury or illness when they signed it.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group will work on your divorce agreement until you are confident that it serves your best interests and they know that the judge will approve it. To schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled lawyers, call 630-584-4800.


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How Do Divorced Parents Apply for College Financial Aid?It is difficult to pay for a college education without some form of financial aid. Grants, scholarships, and loans can help cover the tens of thousands of dollars that it may cost to attend a four-year institution. Many students and their parents will use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see which sources of financial aid are available to them. When filling out the FAFSA form, parents must submit their recent financial records to determine which financial aid resources they qualify for. The application process is more complicated for parents who have divorced.

Who Fills Out the FAFSA Application?

Only one divorced parent will file the FAFSA application because only one of the parents will report their income. The Higher Education Act of 1965 includes a section explaining which parent must report their income if the parents are divorced or separated:

  • The filing parent is the one with whom the child has spent a majority of the time in the 12 months prior to the date of the application.
  • If the parenting time is exactly even, then the parent who contributed the most to child support in the past 12 months must fill out the form.
  • If neither parent contributed to child support in the past 12 months, then they will go back to the most recent calendar year in which child support was paid.
  • If parents have evenly split their child support costs, then the application reviewers may decide based on criteria such as which parent has a greater income.

What Counts as Income?

The filing parent must submit current federal income tax returns and records of any untaxed sources of income. Their income includes child support and spousal maintenance payments that they receive from the other parent. If the filing parent has remarried as of the date of the application, they must include their new spouse’s income.

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