Chicago Child Support Lawyer

Chicago Child Support Lawyer

Chicago Child Support Lawyer

The family courts of Illinois have a legal obligation to always preserve the best interests of any children affected by the court’s rulings. Illinois state law upholds that a child is entitled to financial support from both of their parents in equal measure, and family court judges generally uphold that children benefit most from equal access to both of their parents. When married parents divorce or when unmarried parents decide to live as separate single parents, they must resolve custody of their children through the family court, and this almost alwaysleads to a child support determination as well.

Legal Counsel for Chicago, IL, Child Support Disputes

Whether you are bracing for a complex, multifaceted divorce, a standalone child custody determination, or returning to family court to adjust your current child support terms, the right Chicago child support attorney can be an incredible asset as you navigate these contentious proceedings. Johnson O’Keefe has years of experience representing Chicago clients in the family court system, and our team is confident in our ability to address the unique aspects of your case.

Understanding Child Custody and Child Support Determination

Whenever parents go to Chicago family court to resolve child custody and/or child support, each parent needs to know what to expect in these difficult cases. It’s natural for any parent to want as much time as possible with their children, and it is also possible for personal issues between parents to interfere with their decisions in custody and support determinations. Unfortunately, some divorcing parents attempt to use their children as leverage against one another, and this can easily lead to irreparable harm between parents and their children.

If you are preparing to divorce your co-parent or if you are an unmarried parent in need of a legally enforceable custody and support order, you must remember that the family court has a legal obligation to always rule in favor of the best interests of any children affected by the court’s ruling. No matter how convinced you may be of your negotiating petition in a custody and support dispute, the judge overseeing your case has the final say, and Illinois state law requires any judge resolving custody to assess numerous factors in any given case:

  • The judge must assess the fitness of both parents. If one parent is more fit than the other due to criminal behavior, domestic abuse, addiction, or other issues that present dangers to the child, a judge will always award custody to whichever parent they deem most fit to handle their parental responsibilities. The noncustodial parent is then responsible for paying child support to the custodial parent per the court’s directions.
  • The judge must calculate the child’s basic living expenses and the cost of living in the area. Next, the judge uses these factors to determine the total amount of child support the child should receive from both parents combined each month. Then, the judge divides this amount in half to arrive at each spouse’s respective support obligation.
  • The judge will use the custody terms settled in the case to inform their support determination. For example, if a noncustodial parent has little to no physical custody of their child, they are likely to owe more in support than a parent who shares a joint parenting plan with their co-parent in equal measure.

It’s important to remember that any child custody determination in Illinois involves three main components:

  1. Physical custody, which establishes a child’s primary residence and a schedule of where they spend their time. One parent could have complete physical custody with the noncustodial parent only having limited visitation, or parents can share physical custody on a schedule that poses minimal disruption to the child.
  2. Legal custody, which establishes parents’ rights to make major decisions for their children. As long as both parents are deemed fit by the judge, they are likely to share legal custody, requiring them to consult one another regarding specific major decisions for their children.
  3. Financial support. When one parent assumes a greater share of physical custody than the other, the court inherently presumes this to account for their share of the child’s total support obligation. The noncustodial parent or parent with less physical custody then pays child support per the court’s directions.

Both parents must submit complete and accurate financial records to assign custody rights, and both have the right to offer testimony, call witnesses, and submit character references to support their claims for custody. Ultimately, the judge overseeing a custody and support determination has the final say on the exact terms of the order and each parent’s respective custody rights and support obligations.

How Your Attorney Can Help

If you are required to pay child support, it is vital to adhere closely to the terms of your support order. Any violation of your child support obligations could lead to contempt of court and/or criminal prosecution. In addition, if you are owed child support from a co-parent, it’s vital to know how to address any incomplete, late, or refused payments as efficiently as possible.

When you choose Johnson O’Keefe to represent you in a child support determination, our goal is to help you reach the fairest possible outcome to the case that ensures your child has the support they need from both of their parents. Child support may also fluctuate over time as a child’s needs change or as the parents’ financial situations change. For example, if you are required to pay child support but unexpectedly lose your job or suffer an injury, these events could influence your ability to meet your support obligation.

A Chicago child support attorney can help a client secure favorable terms in an initial support determination and provide ongoing legal counsel if the parent must return to court later to request a modification. The Illinois family court allows a parent to make reasonable changes to their child support terms in certain circumstances. If you need assistance resolving any custody dispute in the Chicago, IL, area, Johnson O’Keefe can provide the compassionate and responsive legal counsel you need to approach this difficult case with greater confidence. Contact Johnson O’Keefe today and schedule a consultation with aChicago child support attorney you can trust to guide you through your case.

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