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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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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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Posted on in Child Support

Child Support Variables That You Will DecideDivorcing parents in Illinois do not negotiate child support payments in the same way they may negotiate spousal maintenance. With spousal maintenance, you may need to decide whether payments are necessary and how long they should last. With child support, those issues are predetermined. Child support is mandatory and will last until all of your children have turned 18 or graduated from high school. The formula for calculating child support is also set because the income shares table will tell you the base child support obligation that you share. However, there are still factors regarding child support that you can control.

Establishing Your Income

When calculating child support payments, parents may disagree on their respective incomes. Your income level affects the total child support obligation between the two of you and how much of that obligation you will pay. You need to accurately report your income while making sure that your spouse is not underreporting their income. Your spouse may accuse you of misrepresenting your income. If you cannot agree on each other’s incomes, a divorce court will examine your case and decide for you.

Division of Parenting Time

The child support formula changes if you have what Illinois classifies as a shared parenting arrangement, which is each parent having at least 146 nights with the children. This is a 60-40 division of parenting time. The revised formula increases the overall child support obligation but expects both parents to pay for most of their own child-related expenses. As a result, the child support payments between parents are less than with parents who do not meet the requirements for a shared parenting arrangement.

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Posted on in Child Support

Receiving Retroactive Child Support PaymentsBoth legal parents have a financial obligation to support a child from the time it is born, even if one of the parents is not an active part of the child’s life. Child support is a common aspect of divorce but can be more difficult to establish when the parents were never married. A father can submit a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, or the mother may file a petition to establish paternity. In disputed paternity cases, the court can order the father to pay retroactive child support if it legally establishes his paternity. The retroactive payments could go back to the date of the initial court filing or the date of the child’s birth.

Reason for Retroactive Payments

Retroactive child support commonly starts on the date that the parent filed a petition to establish paternity or to establish child support. In most cases, the mother is the one who is attempting to force the father to take financial responsibility for their child, though a father could file a petition to establish child support from an absent mother. Illinois allows retroactive child support orders to prevent a parent from avoiding their financial obligation by prolonging the court case. A paternity case can take months to settle and can be extended with other legal actions, such as appeals.

How Far Back Can Payments Go?

Illinois law allows courts to extend retroactive child support payments to dates before a parent filed a petition. Courts have interpreted this as the authority to start the retroactive payments as earlier as the child’s birth. The law lists several factors that courts must consider when setting the start date for retroactive payments, including:

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Three Reasons Why Children Benefit From Shared ParentingIllinois assumes that both parents in a divorce should share parenting time of their child. This may not mean equal parenting time because courts prefer that one parent has the children for a majority of the time to create more stability. Still, both parents are encouraged to be active in their children’s lives beyond child support and basic obligations. Studies on children of divorce have shown that they benefit when each parent has at least 35 percent of the parenting time. They do better in school and are less likely to have long-lasting emotional issues. There are several reasons why shared parenting is more beneficial to children than when one parent has most or all of the parenting time:

  1. The Children Develop Relationships with Both Parents: Conventional wisdom used to be that children primarily need their mothers when growing up, which left some fathers with limited contact with their children. However, a father is also an important figure in a child’s life, and children who do not develop a close relationship with their father may feel abandoned. To develop a relationship, fathers need more time with their children than a visit every other weekend, especially when the child is young.
  2. The Children Receive More Attention: A single parent cannot replicate the positive effect of having two active parents. The parent has work responsibilities and a limited amount of energy to care for all of the children. A shared parenting plan divides the parental responsibilities so that no one parent has to be responsible for all the children at all times. There are two parents to be attentive to the children’s needs and help them if they are having problems.
  3. The Parents Must Work Together: Being “co-parents” means that you are both responsible for the care and development of your children. You need to communicate with your co-parent about what has happened with your children in his or her absence and come to some consensus on how you will raise your children. While it may be difficult, successful co-parenting creates consistency for your children and sets a good example for them. You both are showing how two adults can co-operate towards a common goal, even when they do not get along.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

There are several ways that you can divide your parenting time and schedule the days that you have with your children. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you determine the best parenting schedule for your situation. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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