Child Custody Questions for Military Parents

military, Wheaton family law attorneyMembers of the United States Armed Forces are well trained to expect the unexpected at all points in their careers. However, sometimes the unexpected can affect not only them, but also their spouses and children. Receiving new orders sometimes happens very abruptly, with a minimum of time to make arrangements before shipping out. If you have custody of your children, you may have to act fast to avoid running into trouble.

Your Right to Speak Is Protected

Some spouses will try to file for a parental responsibilities hearing during a deployment or while you are awaiting orders, thinking that with your life in flux, you will be in no position to challenge their wishes. However, in 1940, Congress passed a law now known as the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA), and SCRA grants an automatic stay of any civil proceedings, usually lasting 90 days, but a judge may extend the stay if they believe that it is in the best interests of the child to do so. The rationale is simple: a soldier, especially a soldier deployed on active duty, is almost never in a position to respond appropriately to such an important document as a custody pleading.

It is important to remember, however, that the primary concern of any Illinois court is going to be the best interests of the child, so if you do end up deployed or otherwise unable to participate in proceedings, there is a possibility the stay will expire while you are deployed. Upon the imposition of the stay, a court is supposed to inform you via military channels of the pending action, after which you can take steps to engage an attorney or otherwise arrange matters to the court’s satisfaction. However, this does not always occur in a timely fashion.

The Best Interests of the Child (and the Job)

Illinois law requires that parental responsibilities be allocated primarily to the person who can best serve the child’s interests and well-being at that time, though it is possible to modify a custody order at a later date. This means that while you are deployed, or if there is a significant possibility that you will be deployed very shortly, the court may grant primary parental responsibilities to your former spouse. This is not because you are a poor parent but because it is seldom in a child’s best interests to live with a parent who may be deployed far from home. Many courts will grant electronic visitation or allow other methods for the parent and child to interact, but primary decision-making responsibility will almost certainly rest with your spouse if you are deployed or assigned a temporary duty station.

Once you have completed your tour, separated from the service, or been transferred back to a location more accessible for visitation, you may seek modification of your custody order. In Illinois, this may be done upon a showing of a significant change in circumstances; usually a change in jobs is enough to grant the ability to seek modification. However, it is important to understand that the right to seek modification does not necessarily mean it will be granted.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

If you need help figuring out how best to approach the issue of custody and visitation, contacting a knowledgeable military divorce lawyer can be a great help. Our passionate DuPage County military divorce attorneys are ready, willing and able to assist you as best we can. Call 630-871-1002 today to schedule an appointment.


What Happens if a Prenuptial Agreement is Invalid?

prenuptial agreement, DuPage County family law attorneyThere was a time when many thought prenuptial agreements were only for rich celebrities or those who did not have faith in the longevity of their marriage. Today, people realize that prenuptial agreements are not only vital assets in the unfortunate event that a couple splits up or a spouse passes away, but are also tools which can help married couples manage their financial responsibilities while they are still married as well. When creating a prenuptial agreement, one must be careful to draft it in such a way that it holds up in court. Making certain mistakes within a prenuptial agreement can cause it to be considered invalid. In this case, the mandates set forth in the document will not be followed and the document will have been created in vain.

Dishonesty Regarding Assets

One of the major requirements of a valid prenuptial agreement is total transparency with regard to all assets, properties and debts. If a person enters into a prenuptial agreement but does not disclose all of his or her financial information or attempts to hide assets, the document may become useless. If a couple is divorcing and one spouse proves that the other was fraudulent in his or her financial reporting, the prenuptial agreement cannot be used to make decisions regarding spousal maintenance, property division, or family-owned businesses.

One of The Spouses Was Coerced Or Pressured

Prenuptial agreements or premarital agreements must be agreed upon by both of the individuals signing the agreement. Legal documents signed under undue influence cannot be considered binding. If one of the spouses is forced or tricked into signing the agreement, it may be considered invalid. Furthermore, if one of the spouses was not of sound mind due to illness or for other reasons when he or she signed the document, it can be thrown out. It is important to note that coercion or duress can be difficult to prove and that states have different standards for what it means to have been coerced into an agreement.

The Documents Were Not Properly Executed

In order to be enforceable, prenuptial agreements must be written down and signed by both parties. The signatures must also be notarized. Ideally, both spouses would have legal representation before signing any legal agreement, and in some states, this is required. Prenuptial agreements can also be considered invalid if they include imbalanced or ridiculous provisions. For example, an agreement which awards a huge majority of marital property to one person and leaves the other with nothing will probably not stand up in court.

Legal Aide You Can Trust

To ensure that your prenuptial agreement is enforceable and legally binding, contact an experienced Wheaton family law attorney for guidance. Call 630-871-1002 to set up your confidential consultation at Andrew Cores Family Law Group today.



What Happens If I Cannot Afford My Child Support Payments?

child support, Wheaton family law attorneysThe purpose of child support is to help the custodial parent—that is, the parent who has more parenting time—pay the costs associated with raising the child. Although child support is most often paid by the father to the mother, both men and women can be recipients and payers of child support. Support payments can be significant, especially when there is more than one child in the family. Some divorced parents struggle to make child support payments on time and in full. If you are a parent who is currently struggling to pay your court-ordered child support, or if you are a parent considering divorce, you should know that there are options for those struggling to finance their child support payments.

Do Not Just Stop Paying

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 7 million custodial parents are owed child support at any given time. However, only about 3 million of those parents actually receive the full amount they expect. Sometimes deadbeat parents attempt to skip support payments because they simply do not want to pay, but more often, noncustodial parents simply do not have the funds necessary. If you are having trouble making ends meet and paying your child support, the worst thing you can do is to just stop paying. Never cease payments without letting the courts know. Parents who do not pay their court-ordered child support are at risk of having their wages garnished, tax refund withheld, occupational license, business license, or driver’s license revoked, property seized, and ability to get a passport revoked. In extreme cases, a parent who continually refuses to pay child support can even go to jail.

Seek a Child Support Modification

Instead of paying nothing, the first thing you should do when you realize you cannot make your child support payment(s) is contact the Office of Child Support Enforcement that issued the existing order. There you can ask for child support modification. You will have to prove to the court that you experienced a change in circumstances that led to you being unable to pay. Things like losing your job or becoming disabled are sufficient reasons to petition the court for a child support modification. Also, if your child starts living with you instead of the original custodial parent, you may be relieved of some or all of your child support obligation.

DuPage County Child Support Lawyers

If you have further questions regarding child support modification or nonpayment, please contact the Andrew Cores Family Law Group for assistance. Contact an experienced Wheaton family law attorney today by calling 630-871-1002 and set up a free initial consultation.