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child support, Kane County family law attorneyEarlier this year, a post on this blog looked closely at a ruling by a Cook County judge that levied what was thought to be the largest child support-related fine in the history of the state against a Herscher car dealership. The story took many in the region by surprise but highlighted the important role that employers are expected to play in ensuring that child support payments are properly made each month. Now, it seems that the dealership will not be required to pay the full fine, as both sides have agreed to an out-of-court settlement, the financial terms of which have not been disclosed to the public.

Quick Recap

In April of 2016, Judge Bonita Coleman determined that Country Chevrolet failed to withhold ordered child support payments from the paychecks of an employee. Dealership management claimed that the man in question was not an employee but an independent contractor so the state laws regarding child support withholding were inapplicable in this case. The court disagreed, ordered back payment of approximately $8,000 in child support, and issued a statutory fine of $100 per day for each missed payment, bringing the total fine to almost $2.3 million.

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Posted on in Child Support

child support, Kane County Beginning next summer, child support considerations will be drastically different in Illinois than in years past. Long-awaited changes to how child support is calculated in the state are slated to go into effect on July 1, 2017, thanks to a measure signed by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner earlier this month. The new law fulfills a promise made by lawmakers last year when sweeping reforms to divorce and child custody statutes were enacted but child support discussions were tabled until now. Going forward, parents can expect a more equitable process of calculating each party’s financial responsibilities regarding their children.

Percentage of Obligor’s Income

Currently, a parent’s obligation for child support is based upon two primary factors: the income of the supporting parent and the number of children requiring support. This calculation model is known as “percentage of income,” and Illinois is just one of five states to use a flat-percentage system. Within the law, courts have been granted the discretion to alter the support requirement on a case-by-case basis, but the basic calculation, for all intents and purposes, has become very outdated. Today, both parents are much more likely to be generating substantial income than in previous generations, yet the current law does not expressly encourage the court to take both parent’s income into account when determining an appropriate amount for child support.

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budget, Kane County family lawyersOn July 1, 2016, the 2017 fiscal year will begin. The problem for Illinois, however, is that the state has been operating without a budget since the 2016 fiscal year began a year ago. This means that Illinois has been struggling to cover shortfalls and budget gaps as lawmakers continue to spend more than the state is generating in revenues. The state legislature and the governor have been unable to reach an agreement on last year’s budget, and now it is time to look at this year’s, which does not sound very promising. The sting of the budget impasse has been felt by agencies and groups throughout the state, but now, those who rely on the state’s help for collecting child support could be in trouble. Cuts and layoffs in several counties mean that enforcement efforts are likely to be severely hampered.

Cook County Layoffs

Recent negotiations regarding the 2017 budget promised to restore some expected funding to the child support program in Cook County, but it appears that people will still be losing their jobs. According to reports, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has laid off 90 individuals who work in the county’s child support program helping parents and children get the support they are supposed to receive. Cook County has filed suit against the state trying to force payment of about $6 million in funding, which would be supplemented by contributions from a federal agency.

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college, Kane County family law attorneysIn two previous posts on this blog—which can be found here and here—we talked about how Illinois law permits a court to order either or both parents to contribute toward their child’s college expenses, even if the child has already reached age 18. The child, as discussed, does not have the right to petition the court asking for such help; rather, it is considered to be a matter between the parents. The child's actions, as more fully described below, can have a direct effect upon a parent’s ordered obligation to contribute toward college expenses and may even cause the order to be modified or terminated.

Intended Outcome

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act describes eligible college expenses as those related to the post-high school education of a child who has not yet reached his or her 23rd birthday. With good cause shown, the limit may be extended to his or her 25th birthday, but never beyond that. The law also provides that parents can only be required to contribute until the child receives a bachelor’s degree. Since this type of support is not limited to children attending four-year colleges or universities, ending support for a child obtaining an associate’s degree, or completing a trade school or certificate program would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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college expenses, St. Charles divorce attorneysAs graduation draws increasingly closer, high school seniors around the country and throughout Illinois are starting to make serious plans for continuing their education. With the average cost of many colleges—including public state universities—exceeding $20,000 per year, a large number of students turn to their parent for help. Most parents, of course, are more than willing to assist their child with college expenses if they are able to do so, but the situation can become extremely complicated if the child’s parents are divorced.

Non-Minor Child Support

When a child comes to his or her parents asking for help paying for college, the decision is left entirely up to the parents. In many cases, parents decided on whether or not to provide assistance for college expenses—or assume the entire cost—long before their child ever reached high school. This decision is particularly important for divorced parents, as such issues are often addressed in a divorce settlement agreement. If the divorce judgment acknowledges that educational costs should be split between the parents but does not expressly delineate each parent's responsibility, or does not address college expenses whatsoever, either parent may file a petition with the court asking the other parent to contribute to such expenses.

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