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Highlights Of Changes To Child Support, Custody, Visitation And Maintenance In Illinois

Highlights of Changes to Child Support, Custody, Visitation and Maintenance in Illinois

Most people who have been through a divorce, which may include issues regarding the division of assets and liabilities, basis for the divorce and the support/visitation of children, will tell you that the process can be long, stressful and costly. Recent new amendments to the divorce laws, which went into effect on January 1, 2016, aim to make the process shorter, easier and less expensive. Some of the major changes include:

1. “Custody” and “Visitation” are replaced by new terms:

“Custody” is now known as “allocation of parental duties” and “visitation” is referred to as “parenting time.” These word changes are meant to eliminate the winner/loser inference associated with the old terms and promote cooperation between the parties.

2. Easier relocation of children:

Previously, a parent could move anywhere in the state of Illinois without court approval, but had to get court approval to go beyond state lines – even if they were moving five miles away, but the new home was in Indiana, rather than in Illinois.

The new law provides that if the move is 25 miles or less*, a parent can move across state lines without seeking court approval. This protects children from being taken too far from the other parent while eliminating needless court costs over an inconsequential move.

*Parents with residential custody living in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake McHenry or Will counties, may move up to 25 miles; any other counties up to 50 miles.

3. Deduction of student loan payments from non-custodial parent’s income in calculating child support payments:

“Net Income,” upon which child support is based, may be reduced by the non-custodial parent’s student loan payments, if the debts incurred were both reasonable and necessary for the production of income. Keep in mind that this may also be a partial reduction if a full deduction would not be in the best interests of the child.

4. Affirmative obligation to report new job or job termination to other parent:

The new law allows a parent to be held in contempt of court for not reporting employment changes to the other parent.

5. Age limit and “C” grade point average requirements on college expenses for children:

The new law contain a termination of the obligation to contribute to educational expenses at age 23, unless “good cause” can be shown why it should continue. It also provides for the contribution obligation to end at age 25 regardless of the circumstances.  This clarification should eliminate uncertainty and disagreements over the length of the obligation.

The new law also provides for termination of the parents’ obligation to pay college expenses if the child fails to maintain a cumulative “C” grade point average, unless poor grades are caused by serious illness or other good cause. Additional termination provisions include the completion of a bachelor’s degree or marriage. These are common sense rules that should eliminate some of the issues that parents have previously had to litigate about.

The ability to agree and get along for the benefit of the children is always the best option, but the rules need to make sense and provide some certainty when there is disagreement. These new rules intend to accomplish that end.

Dealing with child support, custody, visitation and maintenance can be emotional and challenging. Let the Chicago family lawyers at The Law Offices of Azita M. Mojarad, P.C. help you navigate the process.

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