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Choosing Your Method for Paying Child SupportChild support is mandatory for all divorces that include children. Whichever parent has a smaller share of parenting time will be required to pay monthly child support to the other parent. Illinois bases its child support amount on an income shares model that considers how much raising the children should cost and the comparative incomes of the parents. If you are the parent who is required to pay child support, you have multiple methods by which you can send the payments to your co-parent. It is important to use a dependable method so that the payments get to your co-parent without difficulty and there is a record that you are in compliance with your child support order.

What Are the Ways You Can Pay Child Support?

The method that you use to pay child support may depend on the type of job you have and your personal preference:

  • Withholding income is the preferred method for many because your employer will be responsible for deducting the child support amount from your pay and sending it to your co-parent.
  • If you are self-employed, you will need to send the payments electronically, by phone, or by mail.

Whether it is you or your employer, child support payments should be sent to the Illinois State Disbursement Unit (ISDU), who will transfer the payment to your co-parent. It is possible to pay child support directly to your co-parent, but sending payments through the ISDU ensures that the state knows that you are in compliance with your child support order.

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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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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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What Is Different About Receiving Child Support Through the State?There are two ways that you can petition to collect child support in Illinois. One way is to file the child support claim directly in court, often as part of a divorce case. The other way is to file with the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. A parent who receives public assistance such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families must use the DCSS to receive child support, but any parent can apply for state child support services. Should you petition for the DCSS to handle your child support case? While there are some advantages to the state system, the disadvantages can make the process a pain.

Advantages

The DCSS, with assistance from the Illinois Attorney General’s office, provides several free child support services, including:

  • Filing the court order for child support
  • Enforcing payment
  • Establishing paternity of the child
  • Locating a missing or unresponsive parent
  • Requesting that children be covered by a parent’s health insurance

The DCSS has several means of collecting child support and pressuring compliance from a parent who is not paying. They can deduct from the parent’s unemployment benefits, intercept their tax refunds, revoke their driver’s and professional licenses, deny their passports, and place liens on their properties.

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Posted on in Child Custody

How Divorce Has Improved for Men in the Past DecadeDivorce in the U.S. has changed in many ways during the last decade. The divorce rate has settled down from the boom the country experienced in the 1970s. Millennials, who were the children of many of those divorces, are waiting longer to get married and start a family. Divorce has also become more amicable because of the rising use of conflict resolution methods such as mediation and collaborative divorce. Women have increasing power during the process and are less likely to be financially dependent upon men. However, men have also seen increased benefits from divorce, thanks to that same trend towards gender equality.

Father’s Rights

The presumption used to be that the mother would have most of the control over the children after a divorce because the mother was the primary caretaker in the family. Fathers would typically have less decision-making power, and equal parenting time was practically unheard of. Now, courts see the importance of both divorced parents having a major role in raising their children. This means that courts:

  • Are more likely to consider a father’s request for equal parenting time
  • May give a majority of the parenting time to a father if it is in the children’s best interest
  • May give more weight to a father’s desire for shared parenting, even if they were less active as a parent during the marriage

It is difficult to obtain equal parenting time in Illinois because courts presume that it is better for the children if one parent has more parenting time. Still, a proactive father is more likely to be rewarded, instead of getting the children every other weekend.

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