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Can I Modify My Illinois Child Support Order?No two divorces are ever the same because no two families are ever the same. However, one constant that will always be present in divorce cases involving children is child support. In the state of Illinois, child support is an obligation that both parents have to a child. The state believes that parents have the financial responsibility of providing for their child, even if they are not a part of their child’s life in any other way. Child support is paid to the child’s main caregiver, typically the parent with the majority of parenting time, until the child graduates from high school or turns 18, whichever comes later. The amount of child support that is paid depends on a variety of factors, including the number of children who are receiving child support, the income of both parents and how much time the children are spending with each parent.

Modifying Child Support Orders

Many things in a divorce decree are set in stone and are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to change once they are finalized. One of the things that can be changed, however, is child support stipulations. In general, Illinois child support orders are able to be reviewed and changed if needed every three years. The state of Illinois understands that sometimes circumstances change between those three-year marks, which is why you are able to petition for a modification if the need for change is urgent or if there has been a “significant change in circumstances.” 

What Constitutes a “Significant Change in Circumstances?”

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that there are three reasons why a child support order can be modified: the original child support order deviated from the support guidelines, the order needs to address the child’s healthcare needs or there has been a significant change in circumstances. The most common reason a child support order is modified is that a parent claims there has been a change in circumstances since the order was entered. Examples of a significant change in circumstances include:

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Do Not Forget About the Right of First Refusal During Parenting Time NegotiationsCo-parenting is not easy. Balancing the responsibilities of taking care of children between you and your co-parent is challenging even for couples who are together. When you become a single parent, balancing these responsibilities become more difficult to manage. Many divorcing parents often worry about the fact that they will most likely have to split their parenting time with their soon-to-be-ex-spouse. It is hard for many parents to cope with the fact that they may not see their children every day anymore or be there for every one of their child’s milestones or achievements. One small solace that can be awarded to divorcing parents is what is known as the right of first refusal.

What is the Right of First Refusal?

Illinois courts strongly encourage parents to come to their own agreement on child-related issues such as parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. If the parents cannot come to an agreement, then the court will step in to allocate parenting time and decision-making responsibilities in the child’s best interest. If the court must step in, it may award either parent the right of first refusal, which is a clause in the parenting plan that states that the other parent must be the first person to be offered the right to care for the child if the parent cannot watch the child during his or her designated parenting time. The parent must ask the other parent if they are able to or would like to care for the child before they seek alternative options for childcare.

Right of First Refusal Agreements

The court is not the only one who can create a right of first refusal agreement. If the parents agree to come up with a parenting plan on their own, they are permitted to include information about the right of first refusal if they please. Clauses about the right of first refusal should include:

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Dealing With Marital Debt During an Illinois DivorceThe majority of your negotiations during your divorce will involve you and your spouse fighting over what each of you wants out of the divorce. One of the only things you and your spouse will not be fighting to keep are the debts that the two of you incurred during your marriage. In an ideal world, you and your spouse would each walk away from the marriage with only the debts that you each created, but that is not how divorce works. Illinois divides marital assets and debts on an equitable basis, which typically means you will only be responsible for the debts that you have the means to repay. If you and your spouse have a difference in income, the spouse with the higher income will typically be responsible for more of the marital debt.

Go Into Your Divorce Debt Free

Most divorce attorneys will tell you that your troubles can be cut in half if you go into your divorce without any marital debt. Lenders typically do not care about divorce decrees, nor are they legally required to abide by them. Lenders just want their money. If your spouse is ordered to repay a certain debt that also has your name on it, you are still legally responsible for that debt after divorce and can suffer the consequences if that debt is not paid back. Still, it is unfeasible for many couples to repay all of their debts before getting a divorce, though you should repay as much as you can.

Allocating Secured and Unsecured Debts

Handling debts during a divorce can be done in a few different ways, depending on the type of debt it is. Secured debts, or debts that are secured by a certain asset, such as a house or car, typically require refinancing if one spouse is keeping the asset and both spouses are on the debt agreement. To release one spouse from being legally obligated to repay a secured debt, the spouse who is keeping the asset must qualify for refinancing on his or her own.

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Will Getting a Divorce Affect My Credit Score?For many people, divorce can put a big financial strain on the family. The cost of getting divorced is estimated to be anywhere from a couple of thousand of dollars to more than $100,000 if you have an extensive list of issues you must settle and a combative spouse. In addition to the cost of getting the divorce, your finances can change because you are switching to a one-adult household with less income and similar expenses. Many couples worry about what a divorce will do to their credit score and for good reason. Getting a divorce will not lower your credit score by itself, but there are things that happen throughout the divorce and the asset division process that could negatively affect your credit score:

  1. You Have Not Closed Your Joint Accounts Yet: Many couples simplify their finances during the marriage by having joint accounts. These can be bank accounts, credit card accounts or even investment accounts. During a divorce, these accounts must be distributed to both spouses, but it can take time to do that and to open new accounts in your own name. If your spouse still has access to accounts that have your name on them, they can do things that can negatively affect your credit score, such as accruing charges or overspending on a credit card account.
  2. You are Not Prepared for the Change in Income and Expenses: Divorcing also means you are splitting your households. Instead of having two incomes to pay for all of your expenses, you now have all or most of the same expenses but are paying those with only one income. Some spouses may be ready for this change, but other people take time to adjust. Before you are on your own financially, you should figure out a new budget for your post-divorce life and determine what you can and cannot afford. Even something as small as one late payment on a credit card or loan can impact your credit score negatively.
  3. You Have to Refinance Your Home: If you and your spouse owned a home together during the marriage, you must determine what you are going to do with it. Though the easiest way to deal with a family home is to sell it and split the profits, many people want to keep the home, especially if they have young children. If one of you is keeping the home, it is easier for everyone if the mortgage is in that spouse’s name only. To do this, you will probably have to refinance the home, which means you will have to go through a hard credit inquiry that could impact your credit score.

Consult With a Will County Divorce Attorney Today

Though your credit score is probably not on your list of priorities when you are going through your divorce, you should definitely keep an eye on it. Many people come out of divorce not knowing what their personal credit score is or not realizing that their credit score is not strong enough to qualify them for many things. At The Foray Firm, we understand how much of a change a divorce can bring to all aspects of your life. Our skilled Homewood, IL, divorce lawyers can help you throughout your divorce and help you protect your credit during the process. Call our office today at 312-702-1293 to schedule a consultation.

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Is My Marriage Over? Four Signs You Should Consider DivorceMarriage is not easy. You will have good days and bad days. When the bad days happen more often than the good days, you may begin to wonder if you should even still be married. You may wonder if your marriage is over and what that means, but there is no universal answer to that question. For some people, the best thing to do is to get a divorce, while other couples are able to work things out and rebuild their marriage. The decision is never easy, but here are a few common signs that you may want to consider divorce as your best option: 

  1. You and Your Spouse Do Not Communicate: Communication is key to any successful relationship, especially a marriage. When you do not communicate with your partner, you can easily drift apart, which makes for an unhappy marriage. Lack of communication can indicate that there are deeper issues that need to be solved than just learning how to communicate again.
  2. There is No Trust Between You Anymore: Typically, a lack of trust goes along with a lack of communication. You should be able to fully trust your partner, but if you and your partner are not communicating, trust can fade. If you feel like you cannot be vulnerable and honest with your partner about your needs, hopes, and fears, you are not being emotionally fulfilled.
  3. You Are Only Staying Together for the Kids: Staying married simply because you and your spouse have kids together is never a good idea and is not beneficial to anyone in the family. In fact, staying married to your spouse when neither of you is happy can harm your children. Studies have shown that children who live in unhappy households typically have lower self-esteem, behavioral issues, and problems at school.
  4. You Do Not Resolve Your Issues: Conflict resolution is an important skill for any relationship. It has often been said that you should not go to bed angry. While that is not necessarily true, it does mean that you should eventually work out your issues. Refusing to face the issues between you and your spouse or never coming to a resolution builds tension in a marriage. 

Talk With a Knowledgeable Will County Divorce Lawyer Today 

For many people, one of the most difficult choices they will make in their life is whether or not to divorce their spouse. This decision does not come easy and often takes months or even years to arrive at. If you think a divorce would be your best option, you should also talk with a compassionate and skilled Homewood, IL, divorce attorney as soon as possible. At The Foray Firm, we understand that you may be nervous or unsure about taking this step in your life. We can help you take care of all of the details of your divorce so you can focus on the next chapter of your life. Call our office today at 312-702-1293 to schedule a consultation.

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BBA Of Will County Illinois State Bar Association Cook County Bar Association The National Bar Association BWLA
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