Tag Archives: Kane County family law attorney

Caretaking Functions Define Parental Responsibility in IllinoisSince 2016, Illinois has used the term “allocation of parental responsibilities” instead of “child custody.” The name reflects that parenting after a divorce or separation is a shared responsibility, not just a determination of who gets to keep the kids. Each parent must fulfill his or her assigned responsibilities when the children are with him or her. If one parent is incapable or unwilling to assume those responsibilities, then a court may give sole responsibility to the other parent.

Caretaking Functions

Illinois’ Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act has a list of parental responsibilities, which it calls “caretaking functions.” There are eight functions that parents are expected to provide for their children during their parenting time:

  1. Attending to a child’s nutrition, health, safety, and hygiene;
  2. Guiding a child through his or her maturation, such as developing motor and language skills;
  3. Teaching proper behavior and providing discipline;
  4. Ensuring that a child receives an education;
  5. Helping a child develop interpersonal skills;
  6. Taking a child to medical appointments;
  7. Instilling a sense of morality in the child; and
  8. Arranging for others to take care of the child when the parent is not available.

The caretaking functions do not include “significant decisions” related to the children’s education, health, religious beliefs, or extracurricular activities. Parents can make routine decisions when they have the children but must discuss major decisions with their co-parent unless it is an emergency situation.

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What Happens to Child Support After Remarriage?Getting remarried is an exciting event because it signifies a resolution to your divorce in many ways. You have proven that you can find a new relationship. If you were receiving spousal maintenance, you can break that financial tie to your former spouse. However, your obligation to provide child support will remain, regardless of whether either of you gets remarried. There are limited circumstances in which the child support payments can be modified after one parent gets remarried.

Principles of Child Support

Divorced parents pay child support because they share a financial obligation to care for their children. That obligation will always remain with the two legal parents of the children and not with any new spouses. Your new spouse cannot become the legal parent of your children unless your co-parent relinquishes his or her parental rights and your new spouse adopts your children. Thus, courts have traditionally not considered the income of a new spouse when determining child support payments. However, an Illinois court ruling in 2014 broke with that tradition when it found that:

  • A parent’s financial resources can help determine his or her appropriate child support obligation; and
  • The income of the mother’s new husband counted as an increase in her financial resources.

Courts will not directly include your new spouse’s income when calculating your child support obligation. Instead, it will reasonably consider whether your current share of child support is fair if your new spouse’s income decreases the percentage of your income that you use for other expenses.

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Give Teens a Say in Post-Divorce Holiday PlansTeenagers can react differently to their first holiday season after a divorce than a younger child will. Younger children are more open about feeling sad or upset, while teenagers may try to suppress their emotions so as not to create turmoil. As a result, they may seem disinterested and unenthusiastic about the holidays but are actually upset and possibly angry. You need to approach your teenager differently than you would a young child when deciding on how to handle parenting time during the holidays.

Making Decisions

Teenagers generally seek more independence as they near adulthood. A divorce forces a change upon them, taking away their ability to control their family lives. They may feel like they cannot decide how and with whom they will celebrate the holidays. You can give them a sense of control by talking to them before deciding:

  • Which holiday traditions you will continue;
  • Whether you will create new holiday traditions; and
  • Who they will get to see on a specific holiday, such as Christmas.

You should consider their requests but set boundaries for what is reasonable. For instance, what your teen may want the most is for you to celebrate Christmas together with your former spouse as if you are still married. You understand how difficult this would be for both of you and how the tension could lead to a confrontation. If your teen wants to see both of you that day, you can come up with other solutions that involve you or your teen traveling.

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When to File for Denial of PaternityAs a father, you cannot forgo your financial obligation to your biological children, even if you no longer see them after divorcing or separating from their mother. However, you may not be required to make child support payments if you are not the child’s father. Family law courts prefer for a child to have two legally established parents for purposes of support and security. If the court presumes that you are the father, you will need to file a form stating that you deny paternity of the child.

Establishing Paternity

Illinois law assumes that you are the biological father of a child if you were married to the mother during the child’s conception or birth. If you have never been married to the mother, you can still be the legal father if:

  • You sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form;
  • Illinois Child Support Services enters an order than names you as the father; or
  • A court rules that you are the father during a paternity suit.

You should not sign a VAP form if you are uncertain about whether you are the child’s father. You have 60 days to rescind a VAP after its effective date. After the deadline, a court will rescind a VAP only if you can prove that you signed the form under duress or based on fraud or a material mistake. A genetic test can clear up any doubt about your paternity.

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Presenting Evidence of Child Abuse by Co-ParentYou must act decisively to protect your child if you suspect that your co-parent is abusing your child or allowing someone else to abuse him or her. It may be necessary for you to take sole responsibility for your child until your co-parent can show that your child will be safe around him or her. However, a family court will not take away all of your co-parent’s rights and responsibilities unless you can provide convincing evidence of the abuse. You must establish that the abuse is occurring, that your co-parent is responsible, and that giving you sole responsibility for your child is in his or her best interest:

  1. Physical Evidence: You may suspect child abuse if your child is injured after returning from a visit with your co-parent. Your child may be afraid to tell you that your co-parent caused the injury, but you should be suspicious if your child cannot give a plausible explanation for the injury. If you believe your co-parent is responsible for the abuse, you should document it by taking pictures of visible injuries and visiting your child’s pediatrician.
  2. Child Behavior: Children experiencing physical or emotional abuse often show they are upset by behaving differently. Your child may react to the abuse by behaving violently, becoming withdrawn, regressing emotionally, or showing an unusual interest in topics such as sex. A child therapist can identify whether your child’s behavior may be linked to abuse.
  3. Witnesses: You should ask family members, neighbors and other people around your children whether they have seen your co-parent behave abusively towards your child. Witnesses may not have seen the actual abuse, but they can testify that they saw your co-parent behaving aggressively or inappropriately towards your child. Be aware that some people will feel uncomfortable testifying against your co-parent if they have a close relationship with him or her.
  4. Character Background: Your co-parent may have a history of abusive or violent behavior that makes your child abuse claim more plausible. You should present your co-parent’s criminal record to the court and recount your own relationship with him or her.

Parenting Battle

In order to obtain sole responsibility for your children, you must prove your parental fitness as well as your co-parent’s unfitness. The court must believe that your children will be safe and cared for with you as their only parent. A Kane County family law attorney at Goostree Law Group can explain why giving you sole parental responsibilities is in the best interest of your children. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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Goostree Law Group

Goostree Law Group

 555 S. Randall Road, Suite 200
St. Charles, IL 60174

 630-584-4800

 1770 Park Street, Suite 205
Naperville IL 60563

 630-364-4046

 400 S. County Farm Road, Suite 300
Wheaton, IL 60187

 630-407-1777

Our Illinois divorce attorneys represent clients in Kane County, DuPage County, Kendall County and DeKalb County, including Geneva, Batavia, St.Charles, Wayne, Wasco, Elburn, Virgil, Lily Lake, Aurora, North Aurora, Elgin, South Elgin, Bartlett, Crystal Lake, Gilberts, Millcreek, Maple Park, Kaneville, LaFox, Yorkville, Oswego, Plano, Sugar Grove, Big Rock, Bristol, Newark, DeKalb, Sycamore, Naperville, Wheaton, West Chicago, Winfield, Warrenville, Downers Grove, Lombard, Oak Brook, Streamwood, Hoffman Estates, Barrington, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Schaumburg, Big Grove, Boulder Hill, Bristol, Joliet, Kendall, Lisbon, Minooka, Montgomery, Plainfield, Sandwich, Yorkville and many other cities.

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