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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 a Criminal Case Could Affect Your Parental ResponsibilitiesAn ongoing criminal case or past criminal conviction can be an important factor when determining how parental responsibilities should be allocated between parents in a divorce. A criminal charge may cause a court to doubt whether you can be a responsible parent and provide a safe environment for your children. However, the details of your criminal case will determine how much weight the family court will give it in your parenting case. Here are three relevant questions about your criminal case in relation to your parental responsibilities:

  1. What Is the Nature of the Criminal Charge?: Violent criminal charges cause the greatest concern about your children’s safety. Domestic violence or abuse charges, in particular, suggest that you may be violent towards your children if left alone with them. Crimes based on poor decisions, such as driving under the influence or drug possession, also reflect badly on your ability to be a responsible parent. A court may strictly limit your parenting time until you can demonstrate that you are not a threat to your children, which may require counseling and parenting classes.
  2. Is the Case Ongoing?: An active criminal case could be good news or bad news for your parenting case. If the case ends without you being convicted, your criminal charge may have a minimal effect on your parental responsibilities. However, the family court has the discretion to hold the fact that you were charged against you if you got off on a technicality or demonstrated poor judgment by putting yourself in the situation that led to your arrest. An ongoing criminal case also casts doubt on your future availability as a parent if a jail sentence is a possibility or you may lose your driving privileges as a result of your conviction.
  3. How Long Ago Was the Conviction?: If you have a criminal conviction on your record, your spouse may present this information to the court as a reason to limit your parental responsibilities. However, you may be able to downplay a previous conviction if it occurred a long time ago and you have demonstrated good behavior since then. A one-time mistake may not hurt you much if you can explain what you learned from the incident and why you will not repeat that mistake.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

A divorce court will presume that you have an equal right to parental responsibilities unless there is evidence that it would be against your children’s best interests. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group will work with you to ensure that you receive an appropriate amount of time with your children. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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Why Parenting Time Is Different from VisitationThe terms “parenting time” and “visitation” are sometimes loosely interchanged with each other when discussing the allocation of parental responsibilities after a divorce or separation. When the children spend the majority of their time with one parent, the other parent may feel like they are seeing the children only during weekend visits. However, visitation is different from parenting time, both in legal definition and concept. Saying that your children visit you is demeaning to your relationship with them.

Legal Meaning

Illinois revised its Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to replace the words “child custody” with “the allocation of parental responsibilities.” Parental responsibilities are made up of:

  • Decision-making, which is the right to decide important issues regarding the children; and 
  • Parenting time, which is the regularly scheduled time in which a parent is responsible for caring for the children.

The written agreement that divides these parental responsibilities is called the parenting plan. There is a separate section in the law for visitation, which is defined as the time spent between a child and a nonparent, such as a grandparent, stepparent, sibling, or other designated parties. Nonparents can petition for visitation with a child if they can prove that it is in the best interest of the child or the parent has unreasonably denied them visits.

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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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Posted on in Child Custody

Four Advantages to Being a Single ParentPeople often think of being a single parent as a hardship that both parent and child must overcome. To be sure, it is optimal for children to grow up in a two-parent household. Being a single parent after divorce means no more sharing parental tasks when the children are with you. You have complete responsibility for the children during your parenting time. You will likely have a tighter budget because you are primarily relying on your own income. Your children may have a difficult time adjusting to living in a different home with each parent. You can help yourself through single parenthood by understanding that there are still some advantages:

  1. Your Home Can Be Less Hostile: A bad marriage puts stress on yourself and your children because there is frequent tension that prevents people from relaxing. Simple tasks can become daunting because they start an argument between you and your spouse. You and your co-parent will each be happier apart, which will create a healthier home for you and your children.
  2. Your Children Receive Your Full Attention: When in a bad marriage, your relationship with your spouse distracts you from your children and takes energy away from your parenting. Though you have more work as a single parent, you can focus more of your attention on your children when they are with you. This may eventually make parenting feel easier for you, and your children will definitely benefit from it.
  3. You Have More Control Over Your Parenting: You and your former spouse may have argued about how to raise your children. While it is important to maintain consistent parenting after divorce, you have more control over the specific rules and expectations in your household. You can choose how strict you are with your children’s bedtime, how often you will go out for meals, and what shows are appropriate for them to watch. Your co-parent is not there to undermine your rules.
  4. Your Children Become More Resilient: One of the keys to being a single parent is sharing some responsibility with your children. They can help you with certain household chores, such as washing dishes or taking out the trash. If you cannot afford to give them the same allowance, they may learn to save the money they receive or earn more money by helping neighbors. It is healthy to take on responsibility as a child, as long as it does not interfere with their education or ability to have a happy childhood.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Attorney

Being a successful single parent requires more planning and attention than when you were married. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you create a parenting plan that makes your job more manageable. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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