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Rockford, Illinois Family Law Blog

Securing visitation rights as a grandparent

Proper support is essential to the full development of a child. Grandparents are usually a strong part of that support system. However, divorce can put a strain on that relationship.

If you, as a grandparent, desire to see your grandchild more often, or at all, after a divorce, it may be beneficial to seek visitation through the courts. Before embarking on that journey, note a few key items.

Must Illinois courts strictly apply the Child Support Guidelines?

Generally speaking, Illinois courts must follow the Child Support Guidelines, which are established under the laws of this state, when ordering a parent in Rockford to pay child support. What this means is that the court must determine what numbers to enter into the child support formula prescribed under the Guidelines. However, once it has done so and has made a support calculation using the formula, the parents generally must take the result as they find it. In other words, if the formula says a parent owes $200 a week, then that parent owes $200 a week, even if the parent feels that amount is going to be hard to afford.

However, there are certain situations in which following the Guidelines strictly would lead to an unfair result. Unfair results can happen on both ends of the spectrum. In some cases, the support called for in the Guidelines is simply not enough. In other cases, the support is obviously too high for the parent who must try to afford it.

Parental responsibilities and choice of religion

One of the most sensitive and hard to talk about areas in a Rockford resident's life is religion or, for that matter, lack thereof. When it comes to the ultimate questions, people have very strong views, and parents typically raise their children to espouse their own views on such matters.

When parents are living in separate households, it is therefore no wonder that child custody and parenting time questions involving religion need to be handled with particular sensitivity. While choice of religion is, generally speaking, handled as part of the court's allocation of decision-making authority, Illinois law imposes some special rules on courts that need to decide religious questions between parents, but that also involve the child.

What to include in a parenting plan

Determining who gets the children and when is a core part of the divorce process. The name for this used to be child custody, but state law now refers to it as the allocation of parental responsibilities. The point of the change was to eliminate a win-lose feeling and remind parents that both of them are important to the well-being of children and are responsible for their care no matter who has the children more often.

Deciding on parental responsibilities involves formulating a parenting plan, a formal legal document that outlines the duties of each parent. Understanding what to put in it can help you create a plan that is effective.

Helping our clients create good prenuptial agreements

Previous posts on this blog have talked about how Rockford, Illinois, residents can benefit from having prenuptial agreements. One of these posts described how Illinois has certain minimum requirements that people must follow if they wish to create an enforceable prenuptial agreement, that is, one which ultimately will be upheld by a court in the event of a divorce or, for that matter, even a probate contest.

Of course, our law office makes every effort to attend to the details of the prenuptial agreements that we create so they will be enforceable in court, as that is what our clients expect. Moreover, we do a thorough review of our client's financial situation to make sure that the other party who will sign the agreement gets a full and fair financial disclosure, as this is also required for an agreement to be enforceable.

Tax refunds can get taken for child support

As this blog has discussed before, there are many potential consequences a Rockford resident may face should he fall behind in child support payments. In the most serious cases, he may even face the possibility of jail time and a criminal charge.

Even when jail is not on the table, a person can face wage garnishment, license suspension and other penalties, as the state of Illinois and its courts understandably take the enforcement of child support very seriously.

In single parent homes, moms still the majority

Although a lot has changed about American families since 1968, one thing that seems to have remained relatively consistent is that, in single parent homes, it is usually the mother who serves as the head of the household. Fathers rarely do so even to this day.

There are about 24 million children who are living in a home where their caregiver, or caregivers, are not married. Of these children, about 15 million, over 60 percent, were living with their mothers. On the other hand, only 3 million or just over 12 percent, were living with their single fathers.

Modifying an alimony order

This blog has previously discussed how some aspects of divorce or separation decrees can be changed under certain circumstances. For instance, child support and the allocation of parental responsibilities can be reviewed periodically at the request of either parent.

The logic behind this is that the needs and best interests of a child can change over time. And, looking after these needs and interests should be paramount in the court's mind.

How capital gains tax plays in to home equity

A previous post on this blog talked about how couples who are splitting, either in a divorce or even after a long-term relationship, must wrangle with property division. During this process, among other decisions, splitting couples must choose how to divide equity in a home that they own or that is legally marital property.

This choice is important since many families have a lot of wealth tied up in their homes. This is particularly true if they have lived in the same Rockford, Illinois, residence for a long time and have been prompt in paying down their mortgages.

What happens to home equity when you divorce?

At one point, you and your soon-to-be-former spouse planned to spend the rest of your lives together, and during that time, you may have secured assets together that you now need to figure out how to divide. For many couples facing similar situations, the most substantial asset the parties must figure out how to divide between them is a shared home.

While there are a number of different avenues you can consider taking to split up the equity you have in your home, many divorcing couples choose to divide home equity in one of the following three ways.

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