Blog posts tagged in your rights
Despite the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, disabled people continue to face discrimination in many, if not all, walks of normal life. One area that often surprises the average person is in the realm of child custody, or the allocation of parental responsibilities as it is now called in Illinois. It is sadly not uncommon for disabled parents to lose their children once their disability is known to the state. The law in Illinois has improved over time, but there are still some potential hurdles in place that a disabled parent may struggle to overcome.
Cultural Bias Is Strong
It has been said that disabled parents are the only group that must commonly fight to retain (or even gain) custody of their own children. Data from the National Council on Disability show approximately 15 percent of parents who are physically disabled report unwanted interference or discriminatory treatment in custody cases, while the removal rate for children of those with developmental disability or mental illness is as high as 80 percent in some states. In approximately two-thirds of U.S. states, the mere existence of a parental disability is grounds for removal of a child from the home.
During a divorce, it is a legal requirement that each spouse disclose information about his or her financial situation. This includes detailed information about property, income, expenses and debt. However, some people are dishonest in their financial reporting. Sometimes a spouse will attempt to hide assets from his or her partner, and this can happen for several reasons. Often, a spouse does this to avoid having to share those assets with the other party in the divorce. Other times, a spouse may not want to report all of his or her income so that he or she will have to pay less in spousal support (alimony) or child support. Hiding assets during a divorce is against the law and can result in serious penalties.
Some common ways that spouses hide assets include:
- Hiding, or undervaluing marital property;
- Overstating debts;
- Underreporting income; and
- Reporting higher than actual expenses.
According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, approximately a third of US adults who combined assets with a spouse admit to being deceptive about money. The penalties for doing so can be strict. For example, in one famous incident, a woman won $1.3 million in a lottery before filing for divorce. She did not report this income and attempted to hide it. When the judge preceding over the divorce case found out, he awarded the entire $1.3 million to the husband.
Domestic violence is a serious problem in this country. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 10 million women and men are abused by a romantic partner every year. This works out to an average of almost 20 incidents every minute. Many of the couples affected by domestic violence have children. In fact, 1 in every 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year. Children are deeply affected by witnessing domestic violence, and exposure to it may cause them serious anxiety, fear, sadness or even guilt.
In Illinois parental responsibility cases—formerly called child custody—every effort is made to make decisions which are in the child’s best interest. Therefore, most courts will not order a child to live with or have visitation with a consistently abusive parent. However, if this abuse is not known to the court or is not documented, the courts may allow arrangements that place the child in danger. This is why it is important for each parent to notify the judge of any issues involving either parent that relate to domestic violence or protective orders.
Emergency Orders of Protection
Every child deserves to have a safe, comfortable home in which to grow up. When parents divorce, one of the courts main duties is to make decisions which will benefit the children of the marriage. Often, this means that one of the spouses will be compelled to make child support payments to the other in order to help them raise the children.
When Is Child Support Awarded?
Child support is almost universally granted to one of the spouses during a divorce. Illinois courts base their child support decisions on an “income shares” model. This model considers both parents’ incomes and the number of children, as well as the amount of parenting time each parent has. The amount of child support is based on an estimation of the total cost of raising the child. This cost is then equitably divided between the parents based on each of their respective net incomes. The parent with more parenting time will usually receive the support payments.
If you do not receive primary residential responsibilities regarding your children during your divorce, you will almost certainly be awarded visitation rights, now referred to as parenting time. However, all visitation is not created equal, especially if there have been alleged problems with your conduct toward the children or your former spouse. It is a good idea to try and familiarize yourself with the types of restrictions on your parenting time that you may face if you have encountered allegations of being a danger to your child.
By far the most common type of restriction placed on the exercise of parenting time is supervision, meaning that the other parent or a third party must be present at all times during the restricted parent’s parenting time. Generally, if any allegation of dangerous conduct is made during divorce proceedings, a hearing will be held on the subject. If the conduct is proved by a preponderance of the evidence and that the child’s physical, mental or emotional health would be endangered by unsupervised parenting time with that person, supervision is the most common remedy assessed. The Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) has the right to oversee continuing supervised visitation, if it is deemed warranted.