Understanding Child Custody Laws
One of the most important decisions you will make during your divorce will be over the health and welfare of your child. Going through an emotionally draining divorce can bring a lot of stress and anticipation over what co-parenting will look like for you and the well-being of your child. Known as “parental responsibilities” in Illinois, child custody laws in this State require that the court decides if joint or sole decision-making suits your situation based on the best interest of your child. Additionally, there are statutes that determine how parenting time is shared and the amount of child support payments that will help give your child the best quality of life. The team at Strieker Law are experts in the field and have created this blog to answer some of your questions in the hope of easing some of the stress you are feeling.
How is Child Custody Determined?
Many factors go into deciding child custody arrangements and how a couple’s Parenting Plan will look. It is important to remember that the success of your child’s upbringing is what should be focused on when making these decisions. If parents are able to discuss and agree on how they want parental responsibilities to be arranged, and the court approves that their decision is made in the best interest of their child, they will be granted their agreed-upon arrangements. If parents are unable to agree on arrangements, they should consult with a family lawyer, and the court will use alternative dispute resolution techniques, such as mediation, to facilitate the creation of those arrangements.
No matter what route you take, many factors need to be taken into consideration. Your child’s relationship and preference of each parent, along with their age and individual needs, are extremely important to keep in mind to support their mental and physical health in their living situation. Parents must also evaluate their own mental and physical capacity along with their financial ability to make sure they can provide the best living environment for their child.
What is Decision-Making vs Parenting Time?
The first step to understanding child custody laws in Illinois is recognizing the difference between orders for decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. Decision-making Responsibilities refer to a parent’s right to make all important decisions regarding healthcare, schooling, extracurricular involvement, and religious upbringing. Orders regarding parenting time refer to the parent’s rights and responsibilities of taking care of the child on a daily basis and how the parenting schedule will take place. It is important to remember that the main focus is what is best for your child and will benefit them in the long run.
What is the Difference Between Joint and Sole Decision-making?
If parents are awarded joint decision-making, they will make all major decisions for healthcare, education, religion, and extracurricular activities together. The Court can also award parents joint in one or more of those four categories, but perhaps sole to one parent in others.
In some situations, joint decision-making responsibilities may not be granted, such as if the parents are unable to make decisions together or if one parent is unfit or incapable of making decisions. In these situations, sole decision-making on one or more of the four categories is granted, and one parent has the right to make all important decisions for the child without consulting the other parent.
If I Have Custody or Majority Time, Will I Receive Child Support?
Child support is determined based on parents’ combined net incomes and calculated to fit a child’s basic needs. All situations are unique, but you can use a Child Support Calculator to estimate your payment amount. The parent who has a majority of the parenting time will typically receive child support from the other. However, in some situations where one parent is seen as the “breadwinner,” the court could still require them to make child support payments to the other parent, even if they have a majority of the parenting time. Other necessities, such as medical expenses not covered by insurance, school fees, and daycare costs, are allocated by a judge in addition to monthly child support payments.
Can Child Support Be Modified?
Child support can be reviewed and modified at any time when there has been a substantial change in circumstances, such as a major adjustment in either parent’s financial situation, a change in the child’s needs, or the remarriage of either parent. On average, child support orders are typically reviewed every three to five years, but there is no requirement on how often support can or should be modified. Any time child support is being reviewed, both parties will be required to fill out a Financial Affidavit, as well as produce supporting documentation regarding their income and expenses claimed on the Affidavit.
Should I Use a Child Support Lawyer?
Child custody and support cases can seem stressful and hard to understand at times, but with help, you will feel confident in understanding the decisions you are making for your child. Child support lawyers are experts on child support laws and specialize in child support and mediation. They can be extremely helpful while going through a family law case by providing valuable insight and helping you obtain the best possible outcome for your child. Strieker Law is here to aid you along your child custody case and truly cares about the best interest of your child. Our team has helped many families in the Metro St. Louis area acquire beneficial, long-lasting custody agreements, and we can’t wait to help you next. Get in touch with our team to learn more about how we can help your child custody case.