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Child Relocation Laws in Illinois

Whether it be for a new career, a remarriage or even the desire to get to a specific school district, moving a child’s primary residence has serious legal complications if not carried out properly. 

Divorces and separations can be emotionally overwhelming. Especially when a child is involved. Disputes regarding child custody (parenting time), child support or even where the child will live can easily arise between parents. Even if these specific issues have been resolved by an Illinois court order, other problems can arise quickly. Here’s a look at the Child Relocation Laws in Illinois and how Masters Law Group can help.

Parental Responsibilities in Illinois

With today’s economy, many parents are discovering that they need to move great distances in order to find work – sometimes across state lines. Before a parent can remove a child from Illinois they must seek approval from the court, even if they are the primary parent.

Currently under Illinois Law, a child is governed by Section 609.2 of the IMDMA (Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act). This IMDMA indicates when a parent is looking to move with their child or children, they must seek court approval, since a parent’s relocation is a substantial change for the child. 

If you move out of state, and the other parent files a parental responsibilities case in Illinois within 6 months, you will probably have to come to Illinois to participate in the case, or you might have to return your child to Illinois. You can move with your child if there is no court case involving your child and:

  • You and the other parent are married or are in a civil union
  • You are the natural mother and the child has lived with you for more than 6 months

Relocation Inside and Outside of Illinois

There are a couple things to note when you’re considering relocating. Relocating in terms of Child Relocation Law, means to move more than 25-50 miles away from the child’s original home if it is in Cook, DuPage, McHenry, Kane, Lake, or Will Counties or if the new home is out of state. 

After you ask the court for permission to relocate, you’ll have a hearing where the court will decide if relocating is in the child’s best interests. The court is going to look at many things, primarily the quality of each parent’s relationship with the child, to the reason why the parents would be relocating. Here are a couple other things the court will consider:

  • Educational opportunities available in each location
  • The arrangements for parental responsibilities
  • Impact on the child, and the wishes of the child

If you are relocating with your child, you must follow these steps. 

  • File a Notice of Relocation, and give a copy to the other parent at least 60 days before your planned relocation. If the other parent agrees and signs your notice, you can file the signed notice with the court and move without going to court any further. 
  • The court will also change your current parenting plan or parental responsibilities order to allow the move. 
  • If the other parent doesn’t agree or doesn’t sign the notice, then you must ask the court for permission to relocate. You would then file a Petition to Relocate.

Summary

It is important to keep your current parenting plan or parental responsibilities up to date so if you do look to relocate, the process of following said steps above are made easier for you and your loved ones. It can unfortunately become complicated and require much interaction between the parents and the court. It’s in your best interests to hire an experienced attorney if you need assistance with Child Relocation Law.

Hiring Child Relocation Legal Help

Hiring an attorney highly experienced in family law will help you understand your legal options and create a plan for what comes next. Masters Law Group LLC focuses on helping clients assert their rights to further the best interests of their children. We help clients put aside their grief and educate them about their options in child allocation of parental responsibilities.

We represent individuals in both their initial quest to set a parenting time schedule, as well as parents looking to modify a previously determined schedule. If you require a review of your current parenting time schedule or parenting plan, contact us here today to schedule a consultation.

Can Social Media Affect My Family Law Case?

Social media is a popular way to keep in touch and communicate with your loved ones, but it has also become an increasingly useful tactic to collect information for family law hearings. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are now being submitted as evidence in family law cases.

When you are going through a divorce, child custody, or placement battle with your ex, what you post on social media networks could come back to haunt you.

While it is not unusual for character witnesses to be called in family law cases, social sites can sometimes be used in a similar manner. Negative comments, images, offensive posts, and hostile interactions can all be submitted as evidence in custody cases. Partners can much more easily keep tabs on one another – and collect evidence against one another – by using social media.

Social Media Evidence in Hearings

Social media is affecting relationships and being used as ammunition in hearings. Lawyers can effectively use or defend against social media evidence in cases. According to the National Law Review, 

  • 81% of attorneys discover social networking evidence worth presenting in court. 
  • 66% of cases involving divorce employ Facebook as one of their principal evidence sources. 
  • 1/3 of all legal action in divorces cases is precipitated by affairs conducted online.

Not all evidence can be used in a divorce case. For example, an opposing attorney cannot open a fake account to “friend” or “connect” with their client’s spouse to obtain evidence.

Generally, public posts that can be inspected by anyone are fair game and can be submitted as evidence in court. If a “friend” or “connection” on a spouse’s social media account shares a post or text and that secondary post is seen by the spouse’s ex, that too, can typically be legally used as evidence in a divorce case.

What’s Fair Game and What’s Not

It is important to note that you should not delete items from your social media for the purpose of “hiding” bad evidence if you have a reason to believe that litigation may be coming. This may be considered spoliation of evidence. 

In most cases, a spouse’s social media posts are admissible as evidence in the U.S. as long as you don’t obtain them illegally. An example of obtaining evidence illegally would be if your estranged husband or wife created a false account with the purpose of “following” you to collect damning evidence. It’s illegal for your ex to hack your accounts to try to gain evidence.

For many, using social media is second nature. However, it is worth discussing your situation with a family law attorney to determine the best way to deal with any social media evidence that may hurt your case.

Social Media Can Affect Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Divorcing parents often have disagreements about child custody and visitation which is officially called the “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time“ in Illinois. There are several ways that social media posts can influence child custody matters. 

Imagine a scenario in which a husband and wife each want to have the majority of parenting time with the children. If the wife posts pictures of herself going out to bars several nights of the week when she is allegedly caring for the children, this could call into question her desire and ability to take on a large amount of parental responsibility. 

It is important to remember that even if you have your social media account set to private, there are still many ways that your social media activity could be used against you during divorce proceedings. The best way to avoid negative consequences from social media during divorce may be to simply take a break from social media websites until the divorce is finalized.

Final Thoughts

It is important to be very cautious when using social media during divorce or other family law hearings. Masters Law Group takes social media into account when dealing with family law cases. Each case is uniquely different and the attorneys at Masters Law Group have the experience to help you during difficult times. Learn more and set up a consultation with us here today.

New Child Tax Credit 2021 for Parents Who Share Custody

As a part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, monthly child credits are starting this July. But if you share custody with your ex-spouse, who claims the child tax credit? 

President Joe Biden recently signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act. Amongst other things, the legislation will increase the child tax credit to $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 annually for children under 6 for the tax year 2021. Here’s what else you should know…

How Claiming Child Tax Credit Typically Works

When parents share joint custody, they usually work out a schedule according to their work requirements, housing arrangements and the children’s needs. This includes financial plans like which parent is eligible for child tax credit payments. 

However, if you are recently divorced or separated – or simply don’t have a plan in place – which parent claims the new tax credits? 

Fundamentals of the New Child Tax Credit

The American Rescue Plan temporarily expands the child tax credit for 2021 which aims to substantially reduce child poverty by supplementing the earnings of families receiving the tax credit. The U.S. Department of the Treasury states that Child Tax Credit has been revised in the following ways:

  1. The credit amount has been increased. The American Rescue Plan increased the amount of the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age 6, and $3,000 for other children under age 18.
  2. The credit’s scope has been expanded. Children 17 years old and younger, as opposed to 16 years old and younger, will now be covered by the Child Tax Credit.
  3. Credit amounts will be made through advance payments during 2021. Individuals eligible for a 2021 Child Tax Credit will receive advance payments of the individual’s credit, which the IRS and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service will make through periodic payments from July 1, to December 31, 2021. This change will allow struggling families to receive financial assistance now, rather than waiting until the 2022 tax filing season to receive the Child Tax Credit benefit.
  4. The credit is now fully refundable. By making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable, low- income households will be entitled to receive the full credit benefit, as significantly expanded and increased by the American Rescue Plan.
  5. The credit is now extended to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories. For the first time, low- income families residing in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories will receive this vital financial assistance to better support their children’s development and health and educational attainment.

To facilitate the disbursement of Child Tax Credit advance payments during 2021, the American Rescue Plan requires the IRS to establish an online portal for taxpayers to update relevant data for mid-year payment adjustments (for example, the birth of a child during 2021). In addition to this online tool, the Treasury Department and the IRS will carry out a sweeping public awareness campaign parallel to its Economic Impact Payment campaign to reach all Americans who may be eligible for this financial assistance.

What Are The Updated Requirements For The New Tax Credit?

There are net income limits and rules to be aware of. But simply put, if your adjusted gross income is $75,000 a year or less and you are a sole taxpayer, you can receive a full tax credit for your child. It fluctuates as your net income increases.

For now, the tax credit extends to:

Children ages 5< 

  • $3,600 per child

Children age 16<

  • $2,000 per child

Children age 17<

  • $3,000 per child

Children 18-24 currently enrolled in college and full-time status

  • $500 per child

To help see exactly how much money you’ll receive in advance, Kiplinger has released a Child Tax Credit Calculator. Try it out here.

Can Both Parents Receive The Monthly Payment In A Shared Custody Situation?

For parents who share custody, child support can sometimes add complications to their stimulus check total and eligibility. Furthermore, rules for the third payment have changed from the first two payments, removing a loophole that allowed some families to “double-dip” (both parents receiving their own dependent payment for the same child), among other major changes as listed earlier. If you are wondering if there are the same loopholes when it comes to claiming the new child tax credits, the short answer is “no”. Only one parent can claim a child and receive the credit.

So which parent gets the tax credits? When the terms of the divorce clearly identify a custodial parent — the parent who has primary custody of the child — that parent is legally entitled to claim the child as a dependent and receive any associated tax refunds. Many parents have a 50-50 custody agreement but don’t have a written agreement regarding which of the parents claims the child on their taxes. Whether you have primary custody or joint custody of a child after divorce, the fact remains that only one person can claim the child on each year’s tax forms.

Be aware that if you falsely claim your child, you will possibly have to pay all or a portion of that payment back the following year.

Can The Tax Credit Money Pay For Overdue Child Support?

If you are divorced and haven’t been paid the correct child support unfortunately, the tax credit cannot be used for overdue payments – according to the congressional research service. However, the credit you will claim in 2021 and 2022 can be subject to overdue child support CRS stated. 

What Action do Families Need to Take to Receive the Payment?

Most families won’t have to do anything to receive their child tax credit payment starting July 15. Similar to the stimulus payments, the CTC payments will be automatically deposited into the taxpayer’s bank account, or sent in the form of a prepaid debit card or paper check (depending on what information the IRS has on file for each qualifying taxpayer).

However, action should be taken for non-filers. Even those who made too little to file a 2020 tax return should do so now in order to receive the advanced monthly CTC payments in the future. The Treasury Department and the IRS say they will continue efforts to make more families aware of their eligibility.

Conclusion

If you have children or other dependents under the age of 17, you likely qualify for the Child Tax Credit that hits bank accounts July 17. When you address the issue of claiming children on taxes, it’s important to research your rights and make your claim correctly. 

If you need further assistance with a parenting plan or child support, you can contact Masters Law Group to schedule a consultation. We represent individuals in the Chicagoland area in both their initial quest to set a parenting time schedule, as well as parents looking to modify a previously determined schedule, child support orders and allocation of parental responsibilities.

 

Helpful Actions for Children While Going Through a Divorce

Each year, thousands of US children face the extreme stress associated with divorce. Parents should provide their children with understanding and support with patience, reassurance, and a listening ear as your children learn to cope with unfamiliar circumstances.

Going through the process of divorce is a challenging life transition for both parents and children. Many times the initial reaction is one of shock, sadness, frustration, anger, or worry. But kids also can come out of it better able to cope with stress, and many become more flexible, tolerant young adults. While you can’t make your child’s hurt go away, you can help them cope with the various disappointments divorce brings. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind.

Breaking the News

When it comes to telling your kids about your divorce, many parents freeze up. Of course how you tell your children is a very personal choice, but try to make the conversation a little easier on both yourself and your children by preparing what you’re going to say before you sit down to talk.

Because children often assume that they are somehow to blame, begin by letting them know what happened is definitely not their fault and they are loved by both parents – and that will never change. If possible, try to break the news together with your ex partner. By demonstrating solidarity and maturity, you will help paint a picture of a drama-free future as their minds race to “what now?”.

The discussion should fit the child’s age, maturity, and temperament; with younger children try to keep things simple, older teens will be more in tune with what you, as parents, have been going through, so more details will be beneficial.

Avoid the Blame Game

It’s vital to be honest with your kids, but without being critical of your spouse. Confining negativity and blame to private therapy sessions or conversations with friends outside the home will help children feel less “torn” between parents, therefore creating less stress on them.

If you and your ex can’t agree on matters like parenting time or allocation of parental responsibilities, save this information for your family law attorney as you navigate these new waters. Your message to the kids should be united, reassuring, and free of bickering and blame.

Expect the Unexpected

While many children will be confused, hurt, saddened and shocked, many also don’t react right away when faced with the news their parents are splitting. Sometimes it’s simply because they are overwhelmed and don’t know how to process the information, while others don’t want to upset their parents by acting as if everything is fine, or try to avoid any difficult feelings by denying that they feel any anger or sadness at the news. Let them know that that is OK, too and that they can talk when they are ready.

Whether your kids express fear, worry, or relief about your separation and divorce, they’ll want to know how their own day-to-day lives might change.

Be prepared to answer these possible questions:

  • Who will I live with?
  • Will I go to the same school?
  • Where will each parent live?
  • Where will we spend holidays?
  • Will I still get to see my friends?
  • Can I still do my favorite activities?

Being honest is not always easy when you don’t have all the answers or when children are feeling scared. But telling them what they need to know at that moment is always the right thing to do.

Helping Children Cope

Like any big life change, many children experience grief when parents are divorcing. Mourning for the family unit they once had is normal, but over time, you and your children need to work through the grieving process and accept and adapt to the new situation.

Here are some ways to help kids cope with the upset of a divorce, according to KidsHealth.org:

  • Encourage honesty. Kids need to know that their feelings are important to their parents and that they’ll be taken seriously.
  • Help them put their feelings into words. Kids’ behavior can often clue you in to their feelings of sadness or anger. You might say: “It seems as if you’re feeling sad right now. Do you know what’s making you feel so sad?” Be a good listener, even if it’s difficult for you to hear what they have to say.
  • Legitimize their feelings. Saying “I know you feel sad now” or “I know it feels lonely without dad here” lets kids know that their feelings are valid. It’s important to encourage kids to get it all out before you start offering ways to make it better. Let kids know it’s also OK to feel happy or relieved or excited about the future.
  • Offer support. Ask, “What do you think will help you feel better?” They might not be able to name something, but you can suggest a few ideas — maybe just to sit together, take a walk, or hold a favorite stuffed animal. Younger kids might especially appreciate an offer to call daddy on the phone or to make a picture to give to mommy when she comes at the end of the day.
  • Keep yourself healthy. For adults, separation and divorce is highly stressful. That pressure may be amplified by custody, property, and financial issues, which can bring out the worst in people. Finding ways to manage your own stress is essential for you and your entire family. Keeping yourself as physically and emotionally healthy as possible can help combat the effects of stress, and by making sure you’re taking care of your own needs, you can ensure that you’ll be in the best possible shape to take care of your kids.
  • Keep the details in check. Take care to ensure privacy when discussing the details of the divorce with friends, family, or your lawyer. Try to keep your interactions with your ex as civil as possible, especially when you’re interacting in front of the kids. Take the high road — don’t resort to blaming or name-calling within earshot of your kids, no matter what the circumstances of the separation. This is especially important in an “at fault” divorce where there have been especially hurtful events, like infidelity. Take care to keep letters, e-mails, and text messages in a secure location as kids will be naturally curious if there is a high-conflict situation going on at home.
  • Get help. This is not the time to go it alone. Find a support group, talk to others who have gone through this, use online resources, or ask your doctor or religious leaders to refer you to other resources. Getting help yourself sets a good example for your kids on how to make a healthy adjustment to this major change.

The process of explaining the issue and giving suggestions to your children will help them see divorce in a better perspective.

Adjusting to a New Life

While it’s good for kids to learn to be flexible, adjusting to many new circumstances at once can be very difficult. Help your kids adjust to change by providing as much stability and structure as possible in their daily lives.

It’s crucial that you and your ex create a schedule that lessens the likelihood that your child will experience divided loyalties because they may feel like they have to choose sides. When both parents work together to determine schools, activities, social calendars and all the other aspects of the child’s life, it fosters a cohesive daily experience for the child, no matter whose house they are at on a given day.

At the end of the day, children are the most important assets a married couple can own. When children are confident of the love of both of their parents, they have an easier time adjusting to co-parenting after divorce.

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Masters Law Group – Experienced Divorce and Family Law Attorneys

Divorce certainly has the potential to change the lives of parents and children, and while it is a difficult process, help and support is available.

Masters Law Group understands that divorce is a stressful situation for everyone involved. As such, we move through settlement negotiations, mediation or litigation with our clients assurance and well being in mind. Whether you are facing a contested divorce, uncontested divorce, or civil union divorce, our firm’s attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most.

Divorce cases involving children require specialized knowledge.  The attorneys at Masters Law Group are highly experienced in the following legal areas associated with separating parents:

Don’t go it alone. Schedule a Consultation with us here today to speak about your family law case.

Illinois Child Custody Basics: Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Legally speaking, the term “child custody” is now called “parental responsibilities“. This includes parenting time and decision-making power. If you live in Illinois and are engaged in a custody battle for your child, you should know the basic rules and be able identify specific factors that courts consider in making custody decisions.

In a divorce proceeding, determining who will have residential custody of a child can be the most emotionally difficult part of the entire process. If you are a parent who is considering ending your marriage, you probably have concerns about how you and your ex-spouse will share responsibility of your child/children. Some couples are able to come to a custody agreement between themselves, however for many, couples require legal and court intervention.

FACTS ABOUT ALLOCATION OF PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES AND GUARDIANSHIP

There are three basic types of child allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois — joint allocation of parental responsibilities, sole allocation of parental responsibilities and shared allocation of parental responsibilities:

Joint allocation of parental responsibilities requires parents to cooperate in decision-making regarding education, health care and religious instruction. It does not mean that the children live with each parent for an equal amount of time. The parties will agree or the court will assign a residential parent. The non-residential parent will pay child support and exercise parenting time. The amount of time the children spends with the non-residential parent is addressed in a parenting time agreement or order.

Sole allocation of parental responsibilities is the term that describes the arrangement that gives one parent the responsibility for deciding everything related to the child’s welfare. It does not mean that the other parent is out of the picture. Parenting Time and parenting time can be the same in a sole allocation of parental responsibilities case as it is in a joint allocation of parental responsibilities case.

Shared allocation of parental responsibilities is a form of joint allocation of parental responsibilities. It is appropriate when the child spends equal time with each parent, the parents reside in the same school district and are able to joint parent.

ILLINOIS-SPECIFIC LAWS

Illinois law encourages the “maximum involvement and cooperation of both parents regarding the physical, mental, moral, and emotional wellbeing of their child.” However, if the parents appear unable to agree on decisions about the major aspects of a child’s upbringing, the court is must decide how to allocate each of these responsibilities.

Illinois allocation of parental responsibility laws stipulate that children 14 and older may choose which parent to live with, but the judge may overrule this decision if he or she determines the child’s decision is not in his or her best interests. A parenting plan generally recognizes the following:

  • The continuity of the parent-child relationship typically is in the child’s best interest.
  • The needs of children change and grow as they mature.
  • Custodial parents make daily decisions (including emergencies) while child is with that particular parent.
  • Both parents are to have access to a child’s official records

Parenting responsibility plans also identify how children spend birthdays and other holidays (plus iron out details such as transportation arrangements, when supervision is required and other considerations.)

The newest changes made to Illinois child custody law were made back in 2016.  Highlights of those changes include:

  • As mentioned above, “custody” and “visitation” have been replaced with “allocation of parenting time and responsibilities” to describe when each parent is responsible for the child and what those responsibilities entail during that time.
  • The terms “joint decision-making” and “sole decision-making” have been added to describe whether one or both parents must make decisions about education, religion, medical care and extra-curricular activities.
  • A court order is required for the custodial parent to move more than 25 miles from their current location if they live in the Chicago metropolitan area.  If the residence is outside of the metropolitan area, a court order is required for a move greater than 50 miles.

GETTING STARTED

Beginning the allocation of parental responsibilities process can vary from county to county, but in general, this the steps to follow include:

  1. Familiarize yourself with your county’s rules. Consider seeking legal representation.
  2. File a petition. The petition may be submitted independently or as part of a divorce, separation, order of protection or parentage case. You must file all forms electronically, unless you have been granted an exemption.
  3. Notify the other parent you are asking for a certain amount of parental responsibilities. To do this, you must serve them a “summons” along with the filed petition. The server may be a sheriff’s deputy, a private process server, a private investigator or — with permission from the court — an adult with no relation to the case.
  4. Wait to hear from the other parent. The other parent has 30 days to respond.  If the parent does not respond, ask the court for a default judgment.
  5. File a parenting plan. Each parent has 120 days from the initial filing to submit a proposed parenting plan. These plans help the judge make custody decisions.

Masters Law Group LLC focuses on helping clients assert their rights to further the best interests of their children. We help clients put aside their grief and educate them about their options in child allocation of parental responsibilities.

If you are in the midst of a dispute regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities, contact our experienced attorneys here today.