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How Much Child Support Do You Pay If You Become Unemployed?If you are one of the millions of Americans who have recently lost their jobs, you are understandably concerned about your ability to pay for living expenses. For some adults, child support is part of their monthly expenses. Fortunately, you do not have to continue paying the same amount towards child support if you have become unemployed. By requesting a modification of your child support payments, you can reduce your payments to something more manageable, though it is unlikely that you could ever get it reduced to nothing.

Changing Child Support

During a divorce or separation, Illinois calculates child support payments based on the parents’ comparative incomes. Your combined incomes help determine how much you both should be spending on child-related expenses each month, and your comparative incomes determine what percentage of those expenses you will each pay for. You can request an immediate modification of child support if you have a change of financial circumstances, such as losing your job. If the court grants your request, your child support payments will be reduced if you are the paying parent, or the payments you receive will increase if you are the recipient parent. There are a few conditions to the modification that you need to understand:

  • If your unemployment is voluntary, the court will calculate your income based on what you could potentially be earning and not your actual income.
  • You may need to make a good faith effort to find a new job in order for the court to consider your unemployment to be involuntary.
  • Child support payments can be reduced retroactively to the date that you filed your modification request but not the date you lost your job.
  • In many cases, child support will be paid to the parent with a majority of the parenting time, even if the recipient has a greater income than the payer. However, there may be situations in which the parent with a higher income and the majority of the parenting time pays child support to the other parent, including in some "shared physical care" situations where each parent has at least 40% of the parenting time.

What Counts As Income?

Though you have lost your job, you are still required to pay whatever child support you can afford. If you are receiving severance pay and/or unemployment benefits, that will count towards your income for the purpose of child support. If those income sources expire, you may still be expected to pay a minimum amount based on whatever savings you have to live on.

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Should I Wait to Divorce Because of the Coronavirus?The coronavirus epidemic has created shockwaves throughout society, and some marriages may be part of the collateral damage. Millions of residents in the U.S. – including those in Illinois – have been ordered to stay at home as much as possible. Some of those residents have lost their jobs, leaving their financial future in doubt. With couples feeling immense stress and unable to escape each other, they are more likely to argue and feel resentful towards each other. Increased time together can also make it more obvious if they no longer love each other or feel unhappy in their marriage. Some couples may conclude that they would like to divorce. However, should they delay getting their divorce until after the epidemic has calmed down?

Reasons to Wait

If your mind is made up that you want to divorce, you may feel restless to get started. However, this may not be the best time to do so. Consider these questions:

  • How might getting a divorce affect your finances, especially if you recently lost your job?
  • Is it feasible for either of you to move out right now?
  • What would you do about health insurance, which you may need if one of you gets infected?
  • How would your children react to learning about your divorce, on top of everything else going on in the world?

There is also the issue of court availability because courthouses are limiting the cases that they hear to those that are deemed urgent, such as criminal cases in which people are being detained. When the courts begin operating normally again, they will have a backlog of postponed cases that they need to hear before they even get to new cases.

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Who Gets Jurisdiction When Divorced Parents Live in Different States?The term “homecourt advantage” extends beyond the sports world. There is an advantage to having your divorce in a court that is close to where you live. Having to travel to another state for your divorce would be more costly, especially if you need to use litigation to settle your case. Choosing a court for your divorce should not be an issue if you both live near each other. If more than one state can claim jurisdiction for your divorce, the state that hears your case may depend on who files first and the practicality for both sides. Illinois has rules concerning jurisdiction in a parenting case when the two parents live in different states.

Determining Jurisdiction

The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act says that the home state of the children should have jurisdiction over a parenting case but Illinois can claim jurisdiction if:

  • The children lived in Illinois in the past six months
  • The court of the other state declines jurisdiction
  • The Illinois court determines that it would be most appropriate for the case to be heard in this state

Once you complete a parenting case in Illinois, the state continues to have jurisdiction over future cases as long as at least one of the parents maintains a strong connection to the state. If neither of you lives in Illinois anymore, jurisdiction will transfer to the children’s home state.

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How Much Is Cheating Responsible for Divorce?Infidelity is the most obvious example of a singular event that would cause a divorce. There are no comprehensive numbers on how many divorces involve one spouse cheating on the other because couples are no longer required to give a reason for divorce. Surveys suggest that infidelity is one of the most commonly cited reasons for divorce, but not all cases of infidelity result in divorce. Cheating is often the symptom of other marital problems that could have led to divorce on their own.

Something Lacking

A person who seeks an extramarital affair is likely looking for something that they are not getting or are unsatisfied with from their marriage. Sexual activity is often what is lacking, though the cheater can also have an emotional affair. A person may feel a lack of intimacy in their marriage but never seek satisfaction outside of the marriage through infidelity. However, that does not make the faithful spouse any happier in the marriage. If your goal is to save your marriage from a lack of intimacy, you need to discuss your concerns with your spouse, possibly through couples therapy. If you know you have no interest in continuing the marriage, you can save some pain by ending your marriage instead of having an affair.

Turning Point

While cheating may not be the only reason for a divorce, it is often the catalyst. People feel hurt and betrayed when they learn that their spouse is having an affair because their spouse:

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Creating a Parenting Plan for a Child with Special NeedsFiguring out a parenting plan during your divorce is complicated, but there are additional difficulties if one of your children has special needs. Raising a child with special needs may require dedicating additional resources to accommodate their physical and/or mental disabilities. A parenting plan needs to account for these in its allocation of parental responsibilities and child support. Children with special needs can be more vulnerable when dealing with the changes that come with their parents divorcing.

Parenting Time

There are several factors that you need to consider when creating a parenting time schedule for your special needs child:

  • If your child has physical disabilities, will both parents have a home that can accommodate them?
  • Are both you and your co-parent capable of caring for your special needs child on your own?
  • How difficult will it be to transport your special needs child between homes?
  • How might your special needs child react to changing homes?

You need to divide your parenting time in a way that is best for your child, which sometimes requires them to spend the majority of their time with one parent. Your marital home may have special equipment that helps with your child’s physical needs, and replicating that in a second home may be expensive. If your co-parent is more experienced with caring for your child’s special needs, you have to learn how to be an independent caregiver if you want a schedule that is close to equal parenting time. However, you still might not be able to dedicate as much time to your child if you have longer work hours than your co-parent.

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