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St. Charles family law attorneyParents have a legal responsibility to provide financial support to their children. In Illinois, child support obligations are calculated based on state guidelines that look primarily at each parent’s income. While these guidelines work well in many cases, there are exceptions. One possible exception is a case in which a parent’s actual income differs substantially from what they could be earning.

Imputed Income Explained

Whenever reasonable, the Illinois child support calculation will account for each parent’s actual income at the time when the order is established. This helps to ensure a fair and equitable result, and it often provides protection for a parent with few financial resources. However, in some cases, a parent’s actual current income is misleading given their financial resources or their ability to earn. Under these circumstances, the court may decide to use imputed or potential income in the calculation instead.

The Illinois Supreme Court case of In re Marriage of Gosney provides an instructive example of how state courts use the concept of imputed income in child support cases. In reviewing and evaluating the relevant case law, the Illinois Supreme Court found that there are three specific circumstances in which courts can “impute” income to a parent for the purposes of a child support calculation:

Posted on in Child Custody

St. Charles IL family law attorneyAs a father, you play a critically important role in your child’s life. At the same time, fathers face some unique challenges in custody and visitation cases. You may be wondering: Can a father seek sole custody in Illinois? The answer is a clear “yes”—a father has just as much right to seek custody as a mother. Nonetheless, the United States Census Bureau reports that it is significantly more common for mothers to have primary custody than fathers. Here is an overview of the most important things dads should know about their parental rights in Illinois.

A Father Must Establish Parentage to Have Rights

As a starting point, a father must establish legal parentage. Without paternity, a man has no access to parental rights. Paternity is simply defined as the legal relationship between a father and a child. How exactly paternity is best established depends on the specific circumstances of the case.

For married men, paternity is straightforward. You are automatically assumed to be the father of your wife’s child. No action is required under Illinois law to establish legal paternity. Married fathers have paternity rights as soon as their child is born. On the other hand, unmarried men can face some additional challenges. If there is no dispute over parentage, a Voluntary Acknowledgment form submitted jointly with the child’s mother is sufficient. However, in other cases, a father may need to seek a paternity order.

Kane County family law attorneyIn today’s world, prenuptial agreements are increasingly common, as people are waiting until they are older to get married for the first time, which also means that they are likely to have accumulated significant assets before they are married. Nobody wants to think about the prospect of divorce, especially before you are even married, but a prenuptial agreement can be greatly beneficial if you and your spouse do eventually decide to call it quits. A prenuptial agreement can help you and your spouse determine the majority of your financial and property division issues with little resistance. Even though a prenuptial agreement is a legal contract, it is not set in stone and can be challenged if you believe the agreement is unfair in some way.

Challenging Your Prenup

As a legally-binding agreement, a prenuptial agreement is also legally enforceable. This means that you must abide by the terms of your prenuptial agreement unless the agreement or portions of the agreement are invalidated. If you feel as if your prenuptial agreement is invalid or unfair, you have the right to ask the court to hear your case. The judge will not simply invalidate a prenuptial agreement because you do not like the terms of the agreement anymore. You must prove that there is a legitimate reason for the invalidation of a section or the entire agreement. Common reasons that a judge may invalidate a prenuptial agreement include:

  • The agreement was disproportionately favorable toward one spouse.

Kane County family lawyerWhile fathers have always played an important role in the upbringing and development of children, they have not always been treated as such by the courts. This was often due to the assignment of traditional gender roles. Further, it was originally thought that the mother was more critical than the father was in the child’s early years. Yet, as time passed, fathers began to gain important recognition in the lives of their children. The composition of families also started to change. Now, there are fathers who stay home with their children while the mothers work outside of the home. Does this necessarily affect the allocation of parental responsibilities or assignment of parenting time in divorce though?

How Child-Related Matters Are Determined

In Illinois, divorcing parents are encouraged to negotiate an agreement regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and the parenting time details of their case. Generally, this offers numerous benefits for families, including the freedom to create a parenting plan that is tailored to meet their family’s specific needs. For example, if the couple feels the child and family would benefit most from the father receiving a greater allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time because he works from home, they could create and agree upon a parenting plan that reflects this decision.

Not all divorcing couples are able to agree upon child-related matters, however. Further, not all families should attempt direct negotiations, such as in situations involving domestic violence. In these cases, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time are decided by the courts. To make this determination, the judge will look at a number of factors to determine the best interests of the child, including:

St. Charles family law attorneyWhen you and your spouse decide to get a divorce, there are a large number of decisions that need to be made about the various areas of your family’s lives that will be affected by your split. Perhaps most important for parents of young children is determining how to allocate parental responsibilities. A divorce can be a time of uncertainty for your children, but a strong parenting plan will help them succeed and ensure that both parents play an active role in their lives after the divorce.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

parenting plan is an agreement between parents detailing how their children will be cared for after the divorce. This plan is an official part of the divorce decree, and it can help make the transition into post-divorce life as seamless as possible for a child as he or she adjusts to living in two homes and dividing time between parents.

A parenting plan should cover parenting time (visitation) schedules, specify how decisions about the health and well-being of the child will be made, and address any special circumstances that suit your family’s unique needs. Here are some tips for creating a successful parenting plan:

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