Monthly Archives: November 2015

New Illinois Family Law in 2016: Contribution to College Expenses

 

 

New Illinois Family Law in 2016:  Contribution to College Expenses

contribution to college expenses

 

Support of a child after a divorce or custody judgment does not necessarily end when a child reaches the age of 18.  Under Illinois law, both parents may be required to contribute to the costs of their child’s education after high school.  The new statute in 2016 adds specific limitations on how much each parent must contribute to these expenses, and for how long they will be required to do so.

 

 

What Kind of Educational Expenses Are Covered

The court can require that parents contribute to college, vocational, professional or other training after graduation from high school, and also any period during which the child is sill attending high school after age 19.  “Educational expenses” can include, but is not limited to:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Housing expenses, whether on campus or off campus
  • Medical expenses, including medical insurance and dental expenses
  • Books and other supplies necessary to attend college
  • Reasonable living expenses of the child during the academic year and during breaks. This applies whether the child is living on campus or off campus.  If the child is living with a parent, living expenses can include the reasonable costs of food, utilities, and transportation.

 

 

The Amount Each Parent Must Contribute

Under the statute as written prior to 2016, the court would consider the following factors when determining how much each parent must contribute to a child’s post-high school educational expenses:

  • The financial resources of both parents
  • The standard of living that the child would have enjoyed if the parents had not divorced
  • The financial resources of the child
  • The child’s academic performance

The new 2016 statute still includes the above four factors, and further clarifies the first factor, as follows:

  • The present and future financial resources of both parties to meet their needs, including, but not limited to, savings for retirement.

This means that the court will not only consider the income or assets of each parent, but also their needs for supporting themselves in the future, including the need to save for retirement.  Additionally, if the parents had set up a college savings plan prior to the divorce, this will be considered a “financial resource of the child.”

 

 

Cut-Off Date Based on the Child’s Age

The court has also set cut-off dates for how far into the future both parents must contribute to these expenses.  Parents will only be required to contribute to those expenses incurred prior to the child’s 23rd birthday.  The cut-off date can be set further into the future if both parties agree, or if good cause is shown.  In any event, parents will not be responsible for expenses incurred after the child’s 25th birthday. 

 

 

Cap on Certain Expenses

The new statute also places a cap on certain expenses.  Costs for tuition, fees, housing expenses, and meals cannot exceed what a student would pay at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the same academic school year.

 

 

Support Can End Early

Both parents’ obligation to contribute to these expenses can terminate if any of the following occur:

  • The child fails to maintain a “C” average in school, unless illness or other good cause is shown
  • The child attains the age of 23
  • The child completes a bachelor’s degree
  • The child marries

The court will not end support if the child enlists in the armed forces, is incarcerated, or becomes pregnant.

 

 

Costs for Applying to Schools

Both parents may be required to pay for the costs of up to 5 college applications, 2 standardized college entrance exams, and one prep course for a standardized college entrance exam.  The court may also require that both parents and the child complete and submit an application for Federal Student Aid. 

 

 

Who Can File for Support

A child will not be allowed to file a petition with the court asking that a parent contribute to expenses.  Only a parent may file.  If a parent becomes legally disabled or dies, then the child may be able to file a petition.

 

 

Why the Changes?

The limitations on the duration and amount of expenses have been clarified in an attempt to reduce litigation.   Prior to the 2016 statute, parents would have to dispute these matters in court.  With the new statute, the awards for contribution requirements can be determined more easily.  Illinois courts also found it necessary to consider both parents’ need to save for retirement when determining how much they should contribute to these expenses. 

 

 

Our family law attorneys assist clients throughout Will County, Dupage County, and Kendall County in matters regarding contribution towards educational expenses, divorce, custody, visitation, and other areas of family law.  Call today to schedule an initial consultation:  (815) 207-9570 or (815) 409-8858.

The information on this site is not legal advice.  Retain an attorney licensed in the state which has jurisdiction over your matter before taking any action which affects your legal issues, legal marital status or custody arrangements, and follow the advice of your retained lawyer.

New Illinois Family Law in 2016: Relocation of Children

New Illinois Family Law in 2016: Relocation of Children

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When one parent wishes to move far away with a child, it can disrupt the other parent’s visitation rights and general involvement in the child’s life.  The new Illinois Family Law in 2016 will include limitations on how far a parent can move with a child before they must seek permission from a judge.  These limitations are more specific than prior law when it comes to the distance a parent can move.

 

 

Old Relocation Law – “Removal” of Child

Under the law existing prior to 2016, a parent having primary custody of a child could only move outside Illinois if granted permission by the court.  In determining whether or not to grant “removal,” the court would look towards whether the move was in the child’s best interests.  Among the factors considered could include the following:

  • The likelihood that the move would enhance the general quality of life for both the custodial parent and the child;
  • The motives of the custodial parent in seeking to move – whether the purpose of moving was intended to defeat or frustrate the other parent’s visitation time;
  • The motives of the non-custodial parent in objecting to the move;
  • Whether a realistic and reasonable visitation schedule could be reached if the move is allowed;
  • The enhancement of the moving parent’s life resulting from the relocation, insofar as it would also enhance the life of the child;
  • Whether the moving parent remarries a person from another state;
  • Whether the parent seeking to move has better job opportunities in another state, which could result in a better lifestyle for the child from the increased earnings.

Also under pre-2016 law, a parent who had been granted sole custody or primary residential custody of a child would not need to ask permission from the court to relocate to any other part of Illinois, even if it were several hours away.  Courts could, however put a reasonable limitation on the distance moved. 

 

 

New Law in 2016: Parental “Relocation”

The new family law statute in 2016 no longer refers to the issue as “removal of child,” but rather a parent’s “relocation. ”  It establishes a new process for when a parent wishes to relocate with the child. 

 

 

The Process: Advance Written Notice Required

The parent seeking to move with the child will have to send notice in writing to the other parent, stating that he or she intends to move.  To send proper written notice, the following requirements must be met:

  • The notice must state the date when the parent intends to move;
  • The notice must list the new address where he or she will be moving;
  • If the move is not permanent, the notice must state the length of time the parent will be living in the new location;
  • The notice must be given to the other parent at least 60 days in advance of the move, unless the court orders otherwise. If such advanced notice would be impracticable, written notice would have to be given at the earliest date practicable. 

If the non-moving parent agrees with the move, he or she would sign the written notice, the moving parent would file the signed notice with the court, and the move would be allowed without any further court action.  If the non-moving parent objects to the move, or does not sign the written notice, the moving parent must file a petition with the court asking for permission to relocate.

 

 

When Written Notice is Required

The parents who must provide written notice of an intent to move include:

  • The parent with whom the child resides the majority of the time
  • Either parent, if the child resides with both of them equal amounts of time

 

The new statute now takes into consideration where the child currently lives, and how far the parent wishes to relocate with the child.   A parent would have to provide written notice if he or she wished to move:

  • More than 25 miles from the child’s current home, if the child lives in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will County;
  • More than 50 miles from the child’s current home, if the child lives in any other county in Illinois;
  • Out of state to a new residence that is located more than 25 miles from the child’s current home.

 

This changes the pre-2016 law in a major way.  Under the law prior to 2016, a parent would have to seek permission from the court before relocating across state lines, even if the new home were only a few miles away.   Now, a parent does not need to ask for court permission to move with the child across state borders if the new home is within 25 miles of the current home. 

Furthermore, a parent who has the child the majority of the time (referred to as the “custodial” parent in pre-2016 law) would now be required to seek permission to move within the state, if the move would be more than 25 miles from a home located in Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will Counties; or more than 50 miles from a home located in any other county.

In accordance with the changes to custody law in 2016, the new statute no longer makes reference to a parent having “custody” of the child, but rather the parent who has been granted the majority of “parenting time. “

 

Why the changes?

The main issue with “removing” or relocating children deals with the ability of the non-moving parent to stay involved in the child’s life, and to have reasonable parenting time after the move.  Illinois law generally encourages both parents to be involved in a child’s life, and for both parents to spend reasonable time with the child.  If one parent moves very far away, it could heavily interfere with the rights of a non-moving parent.   Under the law prior to 2016, a parent who had been granted “custody” of the child could not move outside the state, but could move anywhere within the state without seeking permission from the court.  This could lead to situations where a custodial parent living near the Illinois border would not be allowed to move to the next town over, but would be allowed to move hundreds of miles away as long as he or she remained within the state.  Rather than only dealing with out-of-state moves, the new statute now addresses the issue in more detail by putting specific distance limitations.  

 

If you are seeking legal representation in a Will County, Dupage County, or Kendall County case involving divorce, child custody, or other family law matters, call our family law attorneys at (815) 207-9570 or (815) 409-8858 to schedule a consultation.

 

 

 

 

The information on this site is not legal advice.  Retain an attorney licensed in the state which has jurisdiction over your matter before taking any action which affects your legal issues, legal marital status or custody arrangements, and follow the advice of your retained lawyer.

New Illinois Child Custody Law in 2016

 

 

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New Illinois Child Custody Law in 2016: No More “Custody” or “Visitation”

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Major changes have been made to Illinois Family law in 2016.  The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act has gone through a major re-write, with new laws that have come into effect on January 1, 2016.  One major change is that the terms “custody” and “visitation” will no longer be used.  Instead, these matters will be referred to as “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.”

 

Old Child Custody Law

Custody law in Illinois was generally divided into joint custody and sole custody.  The difference between these two types of custody arrangements centered around which parent would be making the final decisions with regards to the major areas of a child’s life, including:

  • Education – choice of school, special programs, or tutors
  • Health – choice of doctors, dentists, or mental health providers, and necessary treatments
  • Religious upbringing of the child
  • Choice of extracurricular activities for the child

Under a joint custody arrangement, both parents would typically share the decision-making authority with regards to these areas of the child’s life.  With a sole custody arrangement, only one parent would have the final decision-making authority over these matters. 

 

New Child Custody Law in 2016: Assignment of “Parental Responsibilities”

Under the new Illinois Child Custody law in 2016, decision-making authority regarding these major subjects will not necessarily be granted to one parent or both parents.  Rather, the court will determine which parent should be responsible for each subject.  For example, a judge may decide that the mother be responsible for making decisions on education and extracurricular activities, and that the father be responsible for making decisions with regards to healthcare.  Or, a judge may decide that both parents be responsible for the decision in one, two, or all subjects.  The judge will decide separately for each major area.  The assignment of parental responsibilities will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. 

 

Best Interests of the Child

As always, every case will have different facts and different results.  If both parents agree on how to split and share the different responsibilities, they can enter into a written parenting agreement.  If the parents do not agree, the judge will examine the facts of the case, and use the best interests of the child standard in reaching its decision.  Click here to look at the different factors which courts will examine when making a decision on assignment of parental responsibilities. 

 

 

Old Visitation Law

“Visitation time” commonly refers to the schedule which arranges when each parent will have the child with them.     The typical arrangement was that one parent was granted “residential custody” or “primary physical possession” of the child.  That parent would have the children with him or her most of the time.  The other parent would then be the “non-custodial” parent, and would be granted a reasonable “visitation schedule.”  The court would determine which parent would have “residential custody” based on the best interests of the child.  A reasonable visitation schedule is commonly thought of as alternating weekends, some time on one day during the week, and alternating holidays.

 

 

New Visitation Law: “Parenting Time”

Under the new law that came into effect on January 1, 2016, the term “visitation time” has been be replaced by “parenting time.”  Since there will be no more “residential custody,” the way that parenting time schedules will be determined will be different than in the past.  Similar to the subject of parental responsibilities, the court will look towards certain “best interests of the child” factors in reaching a decision on a parenting schedule.  Click here to look at the factors that the court will use in determining a parenting time schedule.  The new law in January will also provide that a parent who has not been granted significant decision making activities (under the assignment of “parental responsibilities”) will be entitled to a reasonable parenting time schedule with the child. 

 

Why the changes?

One reason these changes were made was simply to establish more appropriate terminology for these family law issues.  Saying that one parent won “custody” of the children, and that the other parent now may “visit” the children at certain times is a harsh way of referring to these immensely life-altering events in a custody dispute.  Furthermore, courts wish to lessen the notion of establishing “winners” and “losers” in custody disputes.  The assignment of “parental responsibilities” was determined to be a more appropriate way of resolving issues between parents when relating to the care of their children. 

 

(815) 207-9570

Call to schedule an initial consultation

If you are seeking legal representation on a Will County, Dupage County, or Kendall County child custody or divorce matter, contact our family law attorney at (815) 207-9570 to schedule a consultation. 

The information on this site is not legal advice.  Retain an attorney licensed in the state which has jurisdiction over your matter before taking any action which affects your legal issues, legal marital status or custody arrangements, and follow the advice of your retained lawyer.

Best Interests of the Child Factors in 2016

New Illinois Family Law in 2016: Best Interests of the Child Factors

 

When parents have a dispute over child custody, or “parenting responsibilities” as referred to under the new statute in 2016, Illinois courts generally use the “best interests of the child” standard in reaching a decision.  “Best interests of the child” refers to a list of factors that a judge will examine when deciding how parental responsibilities should be arranged.  Senate Bill 57, which goes into effect January 1, 2016, incorporates many of the same factors that the courts have been using, with some new additions. 

Click here to read more about the changes to Illinois custody and visitation law in 2016.

 

“Parental Responsibilities” or “Custody” Best Interest Factors

When making a determination as to how to arrange “parental responsibilities” (traditionally known as “custody”), among the factors a judge will consider include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The wishes of the child, taking into consideration the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision making;
  • The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including the child and both parents;
  • The ability of the parents to cooperate with decision-making for the child, or whether the level of conflict between the parents might affect their ability to share decision-making responsibilities;
  • How much each parent participated in past decision-making responsibilities for the child;
  • Any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to the decision making for the child;
  • The wishes of the parents;
  • The child’s needs;
  • The distance between the parents’ homes, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, the daily schedules of each parent and child, and the ability of both parents to cooperate in the parenting time arrangement;
  • Whether a restriction on decision-making is appropriate under Section 603.10 (whether one parent acted in a way that seriously endangered the child’s physical, moral, mental health or emotional development);
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
  • Any other factor that the court finds relevant.

750 ILCS 5/602.5(c)

 

 

Parenting Time or Visitation Time Best Interest Factors

The factors that a court will look towards when determining how to arrange a parenting time schedule (the schedule for when the child will be with each parent) are largely similar to the best interest factors for assignment of parental responsibilities.  Among the factors include the following:

  • The wishes of the child, considering the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;
  • The amount of time each parent had participated in the child’s care-taking functions in the past 2 years before a case has been filed, or if the child is younger than 2 years, since the child’s birth;
  • The relationship and interaction which the child has with his or her parents, siblings, or anyone else who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  • The distance between the parents’ residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent’s and child’s daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs;
  • Any other factor that the court finds relevant.

750 ILCS 5/602.7(b)

 

If you are seeking professional representation in a child custody or visitation matter in Will County, Dupage County, or Kendall County, contact our family law attorneys at (815) 207-9570 or (815) 409-8858 to schedule an initial consultation.  

The information on this site is not legal advice.  Retain an attorney licensed in the state which has jurisdiction over your matter before taking any action which affects your legal issues, legal marital status or custody arrangements, and follow the advice of your retained lawyer.

New Changes to Illinois Divorce Laws in 2016

 

 

 

New Changes to Illinois Divorce Laws in 2016

new divorce laws 2016

Several changes to Illinois Divorce Laws are coming into effect on January 1, 2016 with a major overhaul to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.  Among these changes are the ways in which divorces are granted, how parties exchange financial information, and the methods by which financial support is granted during a divorce or custody case.

 

 

Old Divorce Law:  Fault-based Grounds for Divorce

Under the law existing prior to 2016, there are several “grounds,” or specified legal “reasons” under which a person can be granted a divorce: 

  • impotency
  • bigamy
  • adultery
  • desertion for more than one year
  • habitual drunkenness for more than two years
  • excessive drug use for more than two years
  • an attempt at taking the life of the spouse
  • extreme and repeated physical or mental cruelty
  • infecting the other spouse with a sexually transmitted disease
  • irreconcilable differences

 

The first nine grounds for divorce are “fault-based” grounds.  This means that in order to be granted a divorce, the person asking for the divorce would have to prove at trial or hearing that the other party committed adultery, mental cruelty, had used drugs excessively for over two years, or any facts relevant to the basis for the divorce petition. 

 

The last of the grounds for divorce, “irreconcilable differences,” requires that “irreconcilable differences caused an irretrieveable breakdown of the marriage, efforts at reconciliation of the marriage have failed, and further attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.”  This has become the most commonly used basis for divorce.  Over the years it has become more and more rare to see divorces granted on the other nine basis. 

 

 

New Divorce Law in 2016: Only Irreconcilable Differences

The new Illinois divorce law in 2016 does away with the nine “fault-based” grounds for divorce, leaving only irreconcilable differences as the only available basis for getting a divorce.  If the parties have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of at least 6 months, there is an irrebuttable presumption that the requirements of irreconcilable differences have been met. 

 

 

Exchange of Financial Information – New Standardized Financial Affidavit Forms

As part of the divorce process, both spouses are required to provide a complete and honest disclosure of their financial information.  Both parties fill out court forms listing their incomes, assets, and debts.  Each county has been using different forms.  For example, in Will county and Dupage county it is called a Financial Disclosure Statement, while in Kendall County it is a Comprehensive Financial Statement.  The new statute provides that a standardized, statewide form shall be used in all counties.  In addition to filling out and exchanging these financial affidavits, both spouses or parties will be required to provide pay stubs, income tax returns, and bank statements supporting the information listed in the affidavits.  The information in each spouse’s affidavits must match the information in their supporting pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements.  If a spouse intentionally or recklessly lists inaccurate information in his or her financial affidavit, the court can impose sanctions in the form of monetary penalties such as attorneys fees. 

 

 

Temporary Relief – Summary Hearings for Child Support and Spousal Maintenance

Divorce and custody cases often involve one party asking for financial support from the other.  This support can come in the form of child support, spousal maintenance (commonly referred to as alimony) or contribution to attorney fees.  If this financial support is needed right away, a party can ask that the court grant “temporary relief,” meaning that the this financial support be paid by the other spouse while  the divorce or custody case is ongoing.  In the past, a petition for interim attorney fees would be heard on a “summary” basis, meaning that the judge would rule on the matter after looking at financial documents, without the need for testimony from the parties or oral arguments from the attorneys.  Issues of child support or spousal maintenance, however, would often be decided after an evidentiary hearing, which could involve arguments, testimony and other evidence.  Under the new law in 2016, issues of child support and spousal maintenance will be heard by the judge on a “summary” basis, based on the parties’ financial affidavits, pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements.  A party can request an evidentiary hearing for child support or spousal maintenance if good cause is shown.

 

Many of these changes were implemented in an attempt to make the court process more efficient, as family law courts process thousands of cases each year in Illinois.  For more on the new changes to Illinois Family Law in 2016, please continue to read our blog. 

 

To schedule an initial consultation with an Illinois divorce attorney for a Will County, Dupage County, or Kendall County case, call (815) 207-9570 or (815) 409-8858.  

The information on this site is not legal advice.  Retain an attorney licensed in the state which has jurisdiction over your matter before taking any action which affects your legal issues, legal marital status or custody arrangements, and follow the advice of your retained lawyer.