As family dynamics diversify, co-parenting is becoming increasingly popular. But this child-centered approach to parental separation has its own set of opportunities (such as consistency) and challenges (such as who is responsible for child support). Here’s what you should know.
Co-parenting is a form of parenting relationship in which the two parents are not involved romantically with each other, but assume the joint responsibility of the child. It can be described as any two people jointly raising a minor, irrespective of whether or not they are biological parents. But, in the majority of cases, co-parenting comes after a divorce, separation or a breakup involving a child.
After divorcing (or legally separating), working with your child’s other parent may be uncomfortable to say the least. But making the effort to cooperate with your co-parent makes things easier for everyone involved. Especially the child/children.
Navigating co-parenting is no easy feat and it can raise questions about the financial obligations of each parent. Let’s dive into the complex world of co-parenting and child support to learn more.
Co-Parenting in Illinois
In Illinois, co-parenting is commonly referred to as joint parenting. Joint parenting refers to an arrangement in which both parents share parental responsibilities and decision-making for the child. The purpose of joint parenting is to ensure that both parents remain involved in the child’s life and that the child’s best interests are always prioritized.
In order to establish joint parenting in Illinois, both parents must submit a parenting plan to the court. The parenting plan should include details about how parental responsibilities will be divided. It should also include decision-making authority, parenting time, and child support.
Child Support Orders
A child support order is determined by what is reasonable and necessary for the support of the child or children. It is presumed that the guideline support amounts represent the amount of support that is reasonable and necessary, unless it can be demonstrated to the court that circumstances exist that would make the guideline amount inappropriate.
Child support is utilized for the child or children’s expenses and looking at the best interests of the child or children to provide a stable home for the child or children. Some common expenses that are associated with child support are:
- The child’s residence expenses such as mortgage or rent.
- Utilities such as electricity, gas, and water.
- The child’s educational expenses such as notebooks, pens, paper, books, sports fees, band fees, etc.
- The child’s food expenses.
- The child’s medical expenses. (Illinois Child Support Laws that went into effect on January 1st, 2022 requires that during child support proceedings parents must obtain or maintain health insurance coverage for their child or children.)
If you are concerned about how the court will calculate the child support amount and/or if you are concerned whether your child or children will receive the financial support they need, you should contact your trusted family law attorney.
Impact on Child Support
In Illinois, child support is calculated based on several factors. This includes each parent’s income, the number of children, and the amount of parenting time each parent has. When parents share custody in a co-parenting arrangement, child support is typically calculated differently than in cases where one parent has primary custody.
Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, when parents share custody, child support is calculated based on the “income shares” model. The amount of child support is calculated by determining the total cost of raising the child, and then dividing that cost between the parents based on their incomes. The amended income shares child support guidelines model became effective on January 1, 2019, signed into law as Public Act 100-0923 on August 17, 2018.
It’s important to note that in Illinois, child support obligations are not just financial. Parents who share custody in a co-parenting arrangement are also responsible for making sure their children’s emotional and physical needs are met. This includes the following:
- Providing a stable and supportive home environment
- Making decisions about education and healthcare
- Facilitating communication between the child and both parents.
Co-parenting can be a rewarding and fulfilling way to raise children after a separation or divorce. However, it’s important for parents to work together to ensure that their children’s needs are being met, both financially and emotionally. If you feel your current situation and contract is unjust or incorrect, contact your family law attorney to discuss whether you are eligible for a modification of the order.
Modification of Child Support
In some cases, a parent may experience substantial changes to their financial situation that makes it challenging (or impossible) for them to pay the court-ordered amount of child support. In such cases, the parent can request a modification of the child support order.
To modify a child support obligation in Illinois, you must file a petition with the court that has jurisdiction over your case. The petition should explain the basis for the requested modification and the change in child support obligation you are seeking from the court.
Since the petition is for modifying an existing order, there is no need to have it served by a sheriff. Instead, you can serve notice of the petition through mail at the responding party’s last known address. Note that if the petition seeks additional court action besides the modification of child support, such as a change in parental time and responsibility, it must be served through certified mail at least 30 days prior to the hearing date.
It’s essential to remember that you cannot modify child support through self-help in Illinois. Even if the other party fails to comply with visitation rights, you cannot suspend child support payments without obtaining a court order.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to modify a child support order, it’s always best to consult with a family lawyer.
How We Can Help
The options that come with parenting children after divorce or separation have drastically changed in recent decades. While it can be a blessing to many families who have separated on civil terms, it can be hard to navigate when animosity is present.
At Masters Law Group, we understand the laws and the court process inside and out, giving us the necessary knowledge and experience to ensure that your child is properly provided for.
For experienced legal help with your child support orders, parenting time, and more, contact us today to set up a complimentary consultation.