Category Archives: Child Custody

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW ALIMONY/MAINTENANCE LAW IN ILLINOIS

 

Legally dissolving a marriage is about to get much more difficult. Enacted by the Illinois legislature on August 17, 2018, the new law goes into effect January 1, 2019.

Huge changes are pending for the Illinois spousal maintenance law, which is the formal term to describe alimony and spousal support. Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act (IMDMA) deals with the legal issue of spousal support after a judge grants a divorce. This is a dramatic turn of legal events for any couple currently involved in negotiating dissolution to their marriage. If maintenance has emerged as a significant factor in resolving your divorce case, then you should seek out the legal expertise of a licensed and experienced divorce attorney before the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2018.

Overview of the IMDMA

Introduced by Democrat State Senator Michael Hastings of Tinley Park and Democrat State Representative Kelly Burke of Oak Lawn, the maintenance amendment written into the IMDMA will change the percentage that state law uses to calculate how much alimony must be paid annually. The amendment also includes a second big change: Family law judges will use each marriage party’s net annual income after taxes to calculate maintenance costs. The current calculation factors in each marriage party’s gross income.

Current Statute Concerning Alimony and Taxes

Any divorce entered into the legal system before January 1, 2019 allows the payer to deduct divorce maintenance costs when completing a state income tax form. The spouse receiving alimony includes maintenance as income for state tax purposes. This means payers have received a healthy tax break that will suddenly disappear at the dawning of the New Year. There have been exceptions to the tax rule, since some couples in line for a divorce currently have the legal right to declare part or none of an alimony settlement to be tax deductible for the spouse paying maintenance costs.

The Changes You Need to Know by January 1, 2019

If you thought divorce was a sensitive issue before January 1, 2019, wait until the new amendment written into the IMDMA takes effect. On January 1, 2019, the spouse who pays alimony can no longer deduct maintenance costs on federal and Illinois tax forms. The recipient of spousal support does not have to declare alimony as taxable income. The loss of the tax break seems to negatively impact the spouse paying support costs, but both spouses will be hurt financially, especially if one spouse sits in a particularly high tax bracket. There will be less money to split in many divorces that receive court approval after December 31, 2018.

Although the legal guidelines for maintenance after January 1, 2019 have been modified by the Illinois legislature, any court handling a divorce case must consider the following factors to remain consistent with Section 504 on the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act, which we list verbatim according to what is written in the IMDMA.

(1) the income and property of each party, including marital property apportioned and non-marital property assigned to the party seeking maintenance as well as all financial obligations imposed on the parties as a result of the dissolution of marriage;

(2) the needs of each party;

(3) the realistic present and future earning capacity of each party;

(4) any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having forgone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage;

(5) any impairment of the realistic present or future earning capacity of the party against whom maintenance is sought;

(6) the time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that party is able to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or any parental responsibility arrangements and its effect on the party seeking employment;

(7) the standard of living established during the marriage;

(8) the duration of the marriage;

(9) the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, and the needs of each of the parties;

(10) all sources of public and private income including, without limitation, disability and retirement income;

(11) the tax consequences of the property division upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties;

(12) contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, or license of the other spouse;

(13) any valid agreement of the parties; and

(14) any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.

What Do the 2019 Alimony Changes Mean for Married Couples?

The IRS code has also changed the way maintenance costs should be handled by both parties seeking dissolution of a marriage. Spouses paying alimony will no longer be able to deduct maintenance payments from gross income on federal tax forms, as well as on Illinois tax forms. The million dollar question for married couples trying to agree on an amiable split is whether the new state and federal tax changes will alter the way they look at divorce proceedings.

Since there is less money to split in a divorce, the changes written into Federal and Illinois tax laws will encourage both sides of a spousal dispute to fight harder to retain the same amount of money that was divided before January 1, 2019. Without a tax deduction, the spouse paying for financial support for the other spouse will want to give less money away in the form of maintenance. On the other hand, the spouse receiving alimony will want to wait until 2019 arrives to avoid claiming maintenance as part of his or her income. The new tax changes also place more pressure on judges to decide when to resolve divorce cases.

The dramatic and somewhat complicated changes made in handling alimony payments and compensation for tax purposes requires the legal expertise of an accomplished divorce lawyer. If it appears you are the spouse that will make maintenance payments, you definitely want to resolve your divorce case before January 1, 2019. On the other side of the legal coin, recipients of maintenance after December 31, 2018 will want to wait until the clock strikes midnight before trying to settle a divorce case.

If you have any questions. Please Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

Back-to-School and Co-Parenting

Back-to-School and Co-Parenting

It might seem as though the time has flown by, but the summer holidays have ended, and autumn is right around the corner. And from the shelves overflowing with notebooks and pens to the demand for new clothes and backpacks, it is abundantly clear that it’s time for many children to head back to school. This is either fantastic or sad depending upon your perspective, however one thing is certain: it’s time to re-evaluate your boundaries, rules, and parenting arrangements with your co-parent.

Get Ready for the School Year

The new school year is a time of adjustment for many reasons. This can include your co-parenting approach, which might change according to your child’s new schedule and the new responsibilities they hold. It is important to make sure you have a good handle upon their school hours and what to expect regarding extracurricular activities. If you already have this information, make sure to share it with your co-parent so that everyone is on the same page and can work together to ensure your child’s success. You’ll also want to work out transportation details for school, extracurriculars, and parenting time in advance.

Revisit House Rules

Something else to keep in mind as the new school year dawns is that your child’s rules might change accordingly. Perhaps you have a new house rule regarding a bedtime, for example, that wasn’t in effect over the summer. It is a good idea to communicate with your co-parent to keep the rules consistent between both houses. Children benefit from structure and keeping the guidelines surrounding their personal and school lives clear from parent to parent can help them thrive.

Communicate with the School

Finally, it might be a good idea to reach out to your child’s school. Being able to speak clearly and honestly with your child’s instructor is always a good idea, and it can help them better understand your child’s needs. Keep in mind that teachers who understand the potential struggles your child might face can serve as your child’s allies by keeping an eye on them and reacting to their actions and needs proactively. This might mean calling you to discuss problem behavior or simply re-directing your child during the school day. Either way, building a positive relationship with your child’s instructors is a good idea to pursue, and one that you could embark upon with your co-parent.

For more information regarding co-parenting and the new school year, as well as how to obtain an official parenting plan, contact the professionals at Abear Law Office today!

How to Create a Parenting Plan that WORKS!

Divorce is never easy, but it can get even more difficult when there are children involved. Even if you and your ex-spouse are as amicable as can be, it is essential you both agree on a parenting plan in case of any emergencies, changes in either one of your lives, or altered schedules. At the Abear Law Office, we understand you want the best for your child—and the best includes creating a parenting plan that covers all the important issues which may arise in the future. The best prevention is preparation, and our experienced divorce lawyers are experts in drafting parenting plans that include all the necessary precautions you should take.

The following are things to consider when creating a parenting plan, including but not limited to:

  • Schedules, including weekends
  • Summer, winter, and spring break schedules
  • Holidays
  • Vacations
  • Your children’s birthdays
  • Overnight stays
  • Transportation
  • Child care
  • Rules for meeting new dating partners
  • Car seat requirements
  • Neutral drop-off locations
  • Discipline methods
  • Vaccinations
  • Curfews
  • Sleeping arrangements
  • Parent-child communication
  • Internet use
  • Cell phone access
  • Expectations regarding school activities, sports, religion, etc.
  • Sleeping arrangements
  • Third-party visitation
  • Legal and physical custody decisions
  • Post-judgment modifications

Contact the Divorce Lawyers Who Have Seen It All

Through years of experience and knowledge, our skilled divorce lawyers are equipped to handle the most complex of situations. We handle all aspects of divorce and family law with a strong desire to succeed and our client’s needs always come first.

To speak to a representative today, contact our office by calling 630-904-3033

 

Child Custody: International Disputes

Family law is a routinely fraught with strong emotions. Familial conflicts are especially stressful, after all, and it makes sense that they would inspire particular concern and worry. This is perhaps especially true when children are involved. Most of us want what is best for our children and to know they are safe. Child custody disputes, particularly those that stretch across international boundaries, are exceptionally complex processes that require the prompt and dedicated attention of an experienced family law attorney.

International Disputes and the Hague Convention
Implemented in 1980, the Hague Convention was designed to help reunite children and parents when children were unlawfully removed from their country of origin. If one spouse decided to take their children and move to another country just to spite the other parent, for example, and therefore prevented said parent from building a relationship with their child, then the Hague Convention contains rules that participating countries should abide by in these situations. There are currently 96 nations participating in the Hague Convention.

Note that the Hague Convention is not an excuse for a family court hearing regarding child custody, but instead an avenue by which parents are given the chance to have their case heard even if their child has been unlawfully relocated. In the event that one of the countries involved is not part of the Hague Convention, it is possible that the United States State Department and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act could be of use in located and returning your children.

When is it illegal to relocate a child internationally?
When removing the child would violate the custody rights granted to the parent in their country of residence (and the child’s former country of residence), the relocation is unlawful. In general, both parents must consent to the relocation of the child before that move takes place. If the country to which the child is moved participates in the Hague Convention, then it is expected the child will be expeditiously returned as long as the courts deem it appropriate.

There are a few exceptions to the above information. If the child in question is old enough to make such decisions, then they, themselves, might be able to object to returning to their former country of residence. If a year or longer has passed since the child was moved, then it is possible the courts might decide the child is now settled and it would harmful to uproot them. Finally, if returning the child would place them in grave risk of psychological or physical harm or the country from which they were removed is known to violate human rights, then the courts in the child’s new country might very well refuse to return them.

Are you facing an international custody dispute? It is important that you take action and reach out to an experienced family law attorney immediately. Any delay could negatively impact your case. At Abear Law Offices, our experienced legal team has the skills you need to give you the best chance possible. Contact us today for more information!

Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time in Illinois

For nearly two years now, the terms “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” have been used in place of the terms “child custody” and “visitation.” Illinois family laws were updated in January 2016 to better recognize and support children’s rights, encourage a healthier relationship between parents and children, and ensure more positive parental decision-making.

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Unmarried Fathers and Their Rights in Illinois

A child is a beautiful gift. Both parents are typically happy to bond with their child and give him or her the best life possible. However, there are situations when a father is not present when his child is born—an alleged father may be unaware that he is actually the biological father of a child.

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Violations of Parenting Time and Visitation

When two parents decide to file for divorce, there are a lot of factors to consider in order for the divorce to be smoothly finalized. Parenting time and visitation rights are only two of several factors to which both parents must agree.

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New Child Support Calculation Model Could Further Complicate Illinois Family Court Process

Illinois made numerous changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) at the beginning of 2016. Now, with barely any time for families to adjust, lawmakers have made additional changes to a specific family court matter. This time around, it is a change to how child support is configured. Perhaps these alterations are meant to complement the numerous child-related changes made back in 2016, but what they may do is confuse families and create a potentially sticky situation for the children themselves.

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Visitation Rights of Grandparents in Illinois

Depending on the family dynamics, grandparents may find themselves at the mercy of the parents of the grandchildren in question when it comes to the issue of visitation. Under Illinois law, grandparents have a limited right to request court-ordered visitation privileges with their grandchildren. State law also recognizes a parent’s fundamental right to the final decisions regarding how and where their children are raised and who may have access to them while they are minors. From a legal standpoint, however, the rights of both parents and grandparents are always viewed in tandem with what is in the best interest of the child. Situations do arise in which the best interest of the child may need to be decided by a family court.

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Exercising Your Right of First Refusal

When a couple who has children together decides to get divorced, they will need to develop a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a document which outlines each parent’s rights and responsibilities regarding the child and serves as the cornerstone on which the couple’s ongoing co-parenting relationships will be built. According to Illinois law there are more than a dozen considerations that must be addressed in a parenting plan including things like the child’s permanent address for the purposes of school enrollment and a parenting time schedule for each parent. There are other, optional elements that can be included in a parenting plan as well, including the right of first refusal. If your parenting plan provides you with the right of first refusal, it is important to understand what that means.

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