Tag Archives: Illinois divorce lawyer

House Bill Poised to Change Visitation Rules

child custody, visitation, divorce, family law, Wheaton divorce lawyer, Illinois family lawerA new bill currently making its way through the Illinois legislature could have a big impact on how judges assign visitation rights. The bill, HB 5425, recently made its way out of committee and is now headed to the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives for debate. At present the bill’s chances of passing are still unclear. Its sponsor has agreed to refrain from calling for a vote in light of a family law overhaul bill that has been waiting for a vote since 2012, but that may change if the omnibus bill stalls for much longer.

 The Bill’s Provisions

 If HB 5425 does make it into law, it could have a profound effect on the way judges handle visitation for non-custodial parents. The first portion of the bill gives parents a 90-day window to produce their own, mutually-agreeable parenting plan. If the parents cannot agree, then the bill gives the court the power to make visitation decisions.

The legislators developed the bill with the view that it was important to foster strong relationships between parents and children. To that end, it creates presumption that children are best served by spending equal time with both of their parents. Because it is just a presumption, the parents are both allowed to introduce evidence to try to show that equal time is not in the best interests of the child’s “physical, mental, moral, and emotional health.” If one of the parents can prove that by “clear and convincing evidence,” then the court is allowed to place restrictions on the parenting time. However, the bill appears to place a mandatory floor of no less than 35 percent of parenting time to the non-custodial parent.

 Opposition to the Bill

 The bill has also generated opposition from some parts of the state government. People are concerned about both the presumption that equal time is best for the child and the 35 percent floor for non-custodial parenting time. They feel that a child custody decision is a fact-intensive inquiry that benefits from strong scrutiny on a case-by-case basis, and that a formulaic set of rules is not the best way to make those decisions.

Proponents of the bill, including some therapists, respond to that criticism by pointing out that the adversarial process that makes up the current court system is not the best way of deciding child custody issues, and that the conflict can cause children emotional distress. They believe that if this bill becomes law, it can reduce that problem by streamlining the divorce process and making it more collaborative rather than confrontational.

 With law surrounding divorce and child custody constantly changing, it is important to find an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer to help you receive the most up to date consultation on your family law issues.

Techniques for Coping with the Stress of Divorce

divorce stress, life after divorce, coping with divorce, Illinois divorce attorney, Wheaton IllinoisOne of the hardest parts about going through a divorce is handling the daily stress that comes with it. While many people think of stress as a purely mental issue, it can also cause physical health problems. One divorce counselor has even compiled a Divorce-Stress scale to help people assess specific risk factors.

Of course, staying in an unhealthy marriage can also cause significant stress, so often people’s best option can be to move forward with a divorce and learn to manage the stress associated with it. Some of the best strategies include reaching out to a support network, staying active, and seeking help from a therapist.

Find a Support Network

Using a support network is one of the best ways for someone to cope with the stress of a divorce. This is because many of the difficult emotions that arise from a divorce relate to the loss of a partner. This means that divorce can lead to a strong sense of loneliness, unless you make a conscious effort to maintain or rebuild relationships with friends and family. This can both help to reduce any possible feelings of isolation, and also provide an outlet to help you discuss other problems that could be causing stress. Similarly, many areas have divorce support groups that meet regularly to help people in similar situations find others who understand what they are going through.

Stay Active

Staying active is another great way to help reduce stress. Physical activity can help reduce tension and anxiety in addition to its other health benefits.

However, staying active can mean more than just developing a workout routine. Activities beyond exercise can also help improve people’s moods and happiness. Many people find developing a new hobby or rekindling an old one can keep themselves grounded and help them begin to adjust to their new lives. The new interest can also help function as another social outlet to boost your support network.

Speak with a Therapist

Another method of decreasing stress can be to seek help from a professional counselor or therapist. Divorces can be overwhelming, and involve losing a close companion. For many people, that means that they no longer have someone to help them talk through any emotional issues that they might be facing. A therapist can help fill that gap. Having someone to talk to can help you put things in perspective, and work through some of the more difficult emotional troubles of a divorce that you may not feel comfortable sharing with friends or family.

Even though divorce can be stressful in the short-term, it may the best way to secure happiness in the long-term. If you would like to seek a divorce, contact a DuPage County divorce lawyer whose experience and understanding can help make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Child Support Payments and College Expenses

college  tuition, tuition costs, child support, college fund, child of divorce, Illinois divorce lawyerWith the cost of college rising and more people attending every year, a common question divorcing parents have is whether a child’s college expenses can be factored into divorce agreements. In Illinois, section 513 of the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides the answer. That section provides that judges may award “non-minor support” in the case of a child’s educational expenses in some circumstances. The law provides guidelines on what factors judges should take into consideration when they decide whether to award support, what the support may cover, and what rights are afforded to the parents in exchange for this support.

Factors Judges Consider

Judges in family court have a wide range of discretion in awarding this sort of support. The law specifically calls out several factors to which they should look in order to determine if the case merits the support, including:

  • The financial resources of both parents;
  • The standard of living that the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;
  • The financial resources of the child; and
  • The child’s academic performance.

However, the law clarifies that this list is not exclusive and that the judge should take into account “all relevant factors that appear reasonable and necessary.” Furthermore, judges need not make these determinations at the time of a divorce. Instead, they can choose to see how the children’s academics and parents’ finances develop over the years before assigning support.

Expenses Support Can Cover

In addition to providing guidance about the criteria judges should examine for the purpose of assigning support, the law also provides a list of possible expenses that the support should cover, including:

  • Tuition;
  • Room and board;
  • Dues and fees;
  • Books;
  • Transportation;
  • Application fees;
  • Medical and dental expenses; and
  • Living expenses.

Once again, the law explains that this list is supposed to provide examples, and other costs may be included. Additionally, the court can also award support for expenses during breaks from school.

This wide variety of different potential expenses also gives rise to the practical issue of how parents actually pay the support. The court has the authority to order payment to the student directly, to either parent, or to the student’s school. The judge can also have the parents set up a trust or other special account to facilitate payment.

The drafters of the legislation were also conscious of the fact that all these expenses place an extra burden on a parent. To account for this the law does provide an extra right to a non-custodial parent who is required to pay non-minor support. The child is required to sign the consent forms necessary to give the parent access to the student’s records and grade reports.

If you have concerns about issues related to child support or other divorce proceedings, find a DuPage County divorce lawyer today and put their experience to work for you.