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Coping with Legal Matters Involving Children

Published on September 8th, 2022

When a divorcing couple is unable to agree on how they can support and co-parent a child (or children), the judge may decide for them. In the past, this was referred to as child custody and in most cases the court would need to decide on how legal and physical custody of the child would be divided. However, a professional Bloomington family lawyer knows that 2016 saw a major overhaul to the Illinois Parentage Act.

Under the current version, the courts no longer award “custody” or “visitation” to parents. Instead, custody is now referred to as “allocation of parental responsibilities” and visitation is now referred to a “parenting time.”

The law now requires parents to submit a parenting plan within 120 days of any filings for allocation of parental responsibilities. Parents can file their plans either jointly or separately. There are 14 different criteria under the law that the parenting plan must meet in order to gain the court’s approval. These include allocation of decision making responsibilities, how parenting time can be divided, rights to parents accessing records pertaining to the child, and a provision regarding any future mediation.

There are several categories of parental responsibilities, depending on the needs of the child, which the parenting plan must address. A Bloomington family lawyer knows that if these are not addressed or if parents disagree on how they should be divided, then the court can decide how that decision-making may be divided. These categories include health and medical, education, extra-curricular activities, and religion. Decisions for these may be divided between parents or assigned just to one parent. For example, if one parent works in the medical field and the other parent works in education, the court may allocate all the health decisions to the parent in the medical field and all the education decisions to the parent who works in education.

Understanding the “Best Interests” of a Child Involved in a Family Law Matter

As a Bloomington family lawyer, Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols, aims to resolve all disputes quickly. In general, this can be done through mediation or arbitration. Sometimes however, the case may need to be heard in the Illinois Family Court. In the state, there is a presumption that the best interests of a child are met when both parents have a role in their upbringing. The court also assumes the parents can be equally there to offer emotional, mental, and physical support. The presumption can be challenged when a Bloomington family lawyer presents evidence to contradict these things. A Bloomington family lawyer may speak on your behalf to ensure the right statements, and evidence, is presented to the judge.

Factors to Take Into Consideration

In Illinois, the law has laid out several factors, which can be taken into consideration by a judge, to determine the best interest of the child. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • The child’s wishes;
  • The parents’ wishes for custody;
  • The child’s relationship with each parent, siblings, or others;
  • The child’s involvement in the community or school;
  • Circumstances of the child’s home life;
  • The physical, mental, and emotional health of the child and/or parents; and
  • Any history of abuse or violence in the home (even if it was not directed at the child); and
  • The parents’ willingness to have a relationship with the child.

How Is Child Support Calculated?

Legally, a child has the right to receive financial support from both parents. If the final parenting agreement has the child physically with one parent (primary) more than the other (secondary), then the court may order the secondary parent pay child support. Illinois lawmakers recently changed how child support is determined and effective July 1, 2017, Illinois courts now use the “income shared” model. Under the old law, child support was calculated using a percentage of the net income of the paying parent. The percentage used was determined by how many children there were – 20 percent for one child, 28 percent for two children, etc.

Under the new law, parenting time is now taken into consideration. The courts use tables provided by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. These tables determine how much money would be allocated for the care of the child if the couple still lived together. The new law also allows the courts to deviate from the calculation the table may come up with if the circumstances warrant that deviation. A family lawyer in Bloomington IL can help you calculate what the child support obligation could be in your case.

Let a Family Lawyer Bloomington IL Parents Trust Help

If you are dealing with family law issues and would like to speak with a skilled Bloomington family lawyer, contact Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols, Attorneys at Law. As you can see, there have been major changes to all aspects of Illinois family law over the past year or so, making it critical that the lawyer you hire is up-to-date and knowledgeable on every aspect of these changes. Each Bloomington family lawyer at our firm is dedicated to providing our clients with the best representation we can and you can be assured we are on top of any changes to statutes that have been made or may be coming in the future.

If you would like to know more about family law in Illinois, please call Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols to speak with a Bloomington family lawyer you can trust.

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