Tips to Reduce Stress as a Single Parent

Dec 10

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 4 children are living in a household that has only one parent. While it can be overwhelming to raise a family in a single parent household, finding ways to manage stress is helpful for the overall well-being and happiness of not only you, but your child(ren).  Asking for help from friends and family is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed of. If you don’t have many family members close by, getting in touch with local outreach groups can be beneficial for you. While you may feel alone, there are others in the same exact situation that are willing to help you get the support you need.

If you are feeling drained, take some personal time for yourself. The dishes and the laundry can wait. The best way to have healthy and lasting relationships with your children, and yourself, is to make sure you are getting the time you need to recharge and refocus. Even simple activities like being active, taking time to read a book, or even talking about how you’re feeling with someone you know can be huge in boosting your energy levels.

If you are the sole provider for your family, additional stress can come from dealing with certain expenses. Try to find a budget that works and stick to it. If you are still coming up short, find out how you can get help from local or federal government programs. If you are receiving child support from an ex-spouse, speak with them about your concerns in a safe environment where you can speak calmly. Your children can sense when the moods around them are bad and they can be negatively affected. Working to stay positive will ultimately improve your family’s life, and your personal life.

Would you like to speak with a compassionate and experienced family law attorney about child support and other related issues? Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team today!

Consequences of Not Paying Child Support

Apr 13

The State of Illinois takes child support obligations seriously. If you’re unable to pay child support, there are a number of problems that may result. Here are some of the consequences of not paying child support from the Chicago family law lawyer team at Doman Law:

 

Loss of freedom and frequent court appearances child support

If you fail to pay your child support, the court can send you to jail. Of course, that makes it even harder to pay your child support. The court can require you to pay a bond amount to get out of jail that they can apply towards your child support obligation. In addition to jail time, you may find yourself faced with frequent court appearances as the court questions you about why you haven’t paid.

 

Tax and bank account garnishment

The court can try to satisfy your child support obligation by looking in places where you might have money. If you’re expecting to receive a tax refund, child support collectors might intercept your return and apply it to your child support balance. They might also dip into any bank accounts that you have using court orders to collect the payments from your accounts.

 

Loss of your driver’s license or occupational license

A child support arrearage can result in loss of your driver’s license. This can create a cyclical problem if you depend on your license to get to work. The state can keep your driver’s license on suspension until they’re happy with the progress you’ve made making child support payments. In addition, if you have an occupational license, the state can also suspend that license until you’re current in your payments.

What if the child support amount is incorrect?

You may not be able to pay child support because the amount you’re supposed to pay is incorrect. If you’ve suffered a job change or a disability, you still owe the amount of your current, monthly payment each month until you ask the court to change it. If you have questions about your child support payment or you need help addressing a child support arrearage, contact the Chicago family law lawyer team at Doman Law. They can help you address the court, review your child support payments and get back on track.

Who Pays for College When Mom Remarries?

Jul 26

Who pays for college when mom remarries?

Many divorces are settled with the understanding that each parent’s contribution to the payment of the minor children’s college education expenses will be determined at the time each child is ready to attend college. More often than not, trial courts have expressed the opinion that college education expenses should be based upon the annual cost for tuition, room, board, books, transportation to and from school, registration fees, medical expenses and living expenses, using the average annual costs for a state school, such as the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, or Northern Illinois University. So who pays for college?

paying for collegeThe financial contribution to a minor child’s education expenses by the non-custodial parent has become more complicated when either mother or father has remarried.

One of the factors a court is required to consider in determining the financial contribution to college education expenses is the financial resources available to both parents. When mom or dad remarries, and files a joint tax return with his or her new spouse, the new spouse resents being dragged into the dispute, and often times objects to supplying joint tax returns based upon privacy issues. For years, the case law in Illinois has favored the proposition that income from the new spouse is irrelevant for purposes of determining contribution to college education expenses, and therefore joint tax returns often times did not have to be produced.

The current case law shows that Illinois courts have begun to change their interpretation of Illinois law. In a recent case called, In Re the Marriage of Linda Street and Daniel Street, the Illinois Appellate Court wrote that, “the traditional rule had been that the financial assets of the current spouse are not relevant in making a support determination…; however, there is clearly a current trend in the case law moving away from the traditional rule of law on this issue.” The current trend which Illinois courts have been following more often is that the financial resources of mom and dad for purposes of determining each parent’s contribution to the college education expenses of their minor child or children also requires the court to take into account the income of that parent’s current spouse. Accordingly, if dad is the noncustodial parent earning $150,000.00 per year and marries his new spouse who is also earning $150,000.00, both incomes are to be considered by the court when it makes its determination as to how much money dad should contribute to the college education expenses for his minor child or children. This new trend in the case law is based upon the fact that both parties realistically pool their resources with those of their second spouses, resulting in their assets and liabilities being substantially intertwined. It is for this reason that the income of the new spouse is discoverable and reviewable by the court when determining each parent’s contribution to college education expenses. A final point which may offer solace to the new spouse is that the new spouse is not obligated to pay for his step-child’s education, but to the extent that the new spouse contributes to the expenses which would otherwise be paid by the parent, the new spouse’s income and assets are relevant.

In summary, be advised that once a parent with college age children remarries and seeks contribution to college education expenses, then the income and assets of her new spouse and her former husband’s new spouse are relevant in helping the court determine each parent’s contribution to the children’s college education expenses.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. today!

Are you receiving child support on time?

Jul 25

Are you receiving child support on time?

There is a little known law in Illinois (750 ILCS 5/706.1 (E)) which allows a court to assess a penalty against employers who do not remit payments of child support on time. In Illinois, fathers (or mothers as the case may be) who must pay child support are required to have this child support withheld from their paychecks, and forwarded to the custodial parent within seven business days after the money is withheld.

parent holding hand of small childLet me tell you about the problem of this one man corporation that decided to take a shortcut with the law. Lets call this one man corporation, “Mobil Man Cellular, Inc.” Mobil Man was required to collect $175.00 each week in child support from Tom Terrific’s paycheck. Mobil Man was required under Illinois law to remit these withheld amounts to Tom’s former wife, Sheila. Mobil Man, who did not excel in bookkeeping, remitted these child support payments at the end of each month to Sheila, once every 4 weeks, and lumped 4 payments together by sending Sheila one check for $700.00 ($175.00 x 4). One year later, Sheila (who was shy) decided to contact a lawyer and do something about her tardy child support payments. Sheila learned that, when an employer fails to send child support to mom within seven business days after it has been collected, the employer is liable for payment of a mandatory penalty in the amount of $100.00 for each day the payment is late.

The purpose of this provision is to eliminate the substantial burden on mom who might be forced to postpone purchasing essentials for her child such as food, medicine, clothes, or payment of other important bills. The Illinois statute does not require mom to notify the employer of this penalty provision. The employer is responsible for understanding its obligations under the child support law once it receives an Order for Withholding that has been signed by the court.

In the example above, Mobil Man had been three weeks late with the first weekly child support payment every month for twelve months. Mobil Man’s penalty for one year of remitting payments late to Sheila amounted to $25,200.00! The first payment in each of the twelve months was 21 days late. 21 days x 12 months = 252. 252 x $100.00 per day = $25,200.00.

One Appellate Court in Illinois was unsympathetic towards a small employer that had accumulated a $12,000.00 penalty for remitting child support payments late. The Appellate Court stated, “an employer defendant cannot be heard to complain about hardship to itself caused by payment of a penalty to a plaintiff where that employer defendant’s non-compliance with a court order caused hardship on the plaintiff.” The Appellate Court also stated, “The fact the penalty may in some instances be a ‘windfall’ for a plaintiff is irrelevant because the penalty will serve to compensate the plaintiff for any hardship and will deter future non-compliance by the employer.”

All custodial parents should be aware that they are entitled to receive child support within seven business days after it is collected from the non-custodial parent’s income. Also, employers who have the responsibility of withholding child support payments from their employees’ pay should always remit child support payments to the intended recipient on time!

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

A Million Dollar Chicago child support penalty?

Jul 25

A million dollar Chicago child support penalty ?

On November 29, 2007, the Supreme Court of Illinois upheld a failure to pay child support penalty in the amount of $1,172,100.00. If you think this was an outrageous penalty which had no relation to the amount of actual child support owed, you are right. If you think the Illinois Supreme Court probably got this one wrong, you are probably right. However, any employer responsible for remitting child support payments on behalf of an employee certainly won’t be remitting those child support payments late anymore. Here are the facts: Lenora’s former husband, Harold, was ordered to pay Lenora child support in the amount of $82.00 per week. Harold worked for his father in his father’s Architecture firm. Harold’s father properly received a Notice from Lenora’s attorney requiring Harold’s father, and his Architecture firm, to withhold $82.00 per week from Harold’s pay, and remit this child support payment to Lenora on a weekly basis. The facts are as plain and simple as that.

Chicago child supportAs of January 1, 1999, the Illinois Legislature enacted a child support statute which provides for a $100.00 per day penalty for each child support payment which is not made in a timely fashion. For example, if an employer pays his employee a salary each week, the employer is required to withhold child support from his employee’s pay check on a weekly basis. If the employer does not withhold the requisite child support and send the money to the custodial parent each week, then the penalty applies. If the employer does not remit child support payments for 2 and a half years, as Harold’s father failed to do, each of the weekly child support payments continue to incur a $100.00 per day penalty for each day the child support payments remain unpaid. There are 130 weeks in a 2 and a half year time period (52 weeks per year times 2 and a half years), and if an employer does not remit child support during a 2 and a half year period, each one of the 130 weekly delinquent child support payments accrues a penalty of $100.00 per day.

In the Miller case, Harold’s father (and employer) accumulated 11,721 penalty days at the rate of $100.00 per penalty, for a total of $1,172,100.00 in penalties. (As an aside, the unpaid child support totaled a mere $12,382.00.)

As you might expect, the Illinois Legislature has broad discretion and authority to impose fines and penalties for violations of its statutes. Indeed, such governmental authority has existed for years. The Illinois Supreme Court made several statements about this child support penalty, including the statement that, “It is difficult to imagine a more compelling state interest than the support of children.” The Illinois Supreme Court also noted that it is impossible to quantify the harm suffered by custodial parents when they do not receive child support on a timely basis, which may prevent a custodial parent from purchasing essentials such as food and medicine for a child.

It is doubtful that the entire penalty will ever be paid; however, obligations to pay unpaid child support are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, and therefore, will probably never be removed from the employer’s record.

In conclusion, it may well be that the penalty imposed on Harold Miller’s father/employer may well have been excessive, unreasonable, harsh and oppressive. The penalty was nevertheless legal, enforceable and will most certainly deter employers in the future from failing to withhold child support payments from employee pay checks, and remitting these child support payments to the appropriate party.

Need a Chicago Child Support LawyerContact our office today.

3 Ways to Plan for the Holidays when Divorced with Children

Nov 28

single parent during holiday season, divorced with childrenWhat makes holidays special is the family gathering together and depending on which holiday it is, sharing gifts bought for each other. When this will no longer be happening because their parents have split up, it takes a toll on children. While there may be ill feelings and ill will between the two parents who are splitting up, they both need to be civil and courteous for the sake of their children especially when it comes to how holidays will be spent.

There are three ways to do this;

1) Agree to enjoy part of the holiday together at a neutral location
Perhaps the marriage has ended because one partner was unfaithful, irresponsible with money or done something else that is very hurting or offending. For this reason, the offended partner may not want the other back in the marital home, even for a visit. A holiday can still be enjoyed at a neutral place like lunch at a family restaurant or at a theme park.

2) Involve older kids in planning for the holidays
Very young kids may not be able to understand that one parent will no longer be living with them. Older ones can. Help them get over their feelings about the divorce by involving them in holiday planning. Ideally, this should be done with both parents present so that they can discuss the options with the kids. If it’s possible to fit in all that the children want to do during a holiday, it should be done. Otherwise, discuss compromises that work for the kids.

3) Hold double celebrations
If one parent has moved far away and cannot make it for personal special days like birthdays and even holidays, double the fun and hold double celebrations. Let the kids celebrate separately with both parents when they have their time with the child or children. This way, there is no feeling of missing out.

Having handled so many divorces, the team of Chicago divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Michael P. Doman Ltd. has seen firsthand how harmful divorce can be on families. It is for this reason that The Law Office of Michael P. Doman Ltd. Chicago divorce attorneys do all that they can to try and reach agreements with the other party about custody and how holidays will be spent. We are not just about making a divorce final but also helping our clients and everyone to reach amicable agreements and move on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child Support! Who Pays Who?

Sep 23

father supporting son

When going through a divorce with a child involved, child support almost always comes up. If you and your former spouse can agree upon no child support, it is far easier, keeps the divorce cost down and helps both of you make a clean break. However, this often only happens when the two of you are still amicable towards each other and make a similar amount of money. In all other cases, someone will need to pay child support. This is when you really need a Chicago family law attorney while going through your divorce in Chicago. It is possible to be roped into child support even if you make less money and have the children more often. An attorney can prevent this from happening.

Payments are typically made to the parent who has custody of the child. If you have split custody, child support is broken down into the frequency you spend with your child. If it goes week on, week off, than the frequency is even and may mean you don’t have to pay any child support. If you have the child longer than your spouse, they will need to pay child support, even if you make more money.

A common question regarding child support is if a stepparent needs to pay child support. They do not. Stepparents do not need to pay child support, nor do grandparents (so if the individual paying child support dies, it does not move on to the next of kin but instead stops completely). If the two of you were never married, it does open for the chance of opting out of child support, especially if you can prove you are not the biological parent of the child. However, more often than not you will still be required to pay child support if you are found to be the parent even though you were never married.

Questions? The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd can answer all you child support questions.

Adopting Your Spouse’s Child

May 20
father_daughter

If you wish to adopt your step-child, contact us TODAY!

In many TV re-marriages, there is a touching moment when the new parent offers to adopt the spouse’s child, and the child accepts. Often this is the end of that particular plot line. But is adopting your spouse’s child from a previous marriage actually that easy?

In Illinois, step-parent adoption is possible and common, and it occurs when you legally become a parent to a child after marrying a current, legal parent. Though it is also called adoption, it is a very different, more streamlined process than adopting a child through an agency or private adoption.

First, both biological parents, if involved in the child’s life, must consent to the adoption. This can be a difficult step, depending on the relationship between ex-spouses. The child, if over 14, must consent as well. After that, the step-parent adoption can be complete in as few as thirty days by filling out the proper forms and cooperating with the court.

The biggest roadblock occurs with the child’s other biological parent objecting. The court has the ability to determine that parent’s unfitness, and they often consider the ability for the adults to provide for the child, as well as the relationship of the child and step-parent.

If you are considering legally adopting your spouse’s child, recruiting an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer can make the process run smoothly and efficiently. Contact The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman today for a consultation about your potential step-parent adoption.

Establishing Paternity: It’s Not as Easy as D-N-A

Apr 01

Work with experienced Chicago Family Law Attorneys Today!

paternity_test

If you have questions about establishing paternity, contact us today!

We’ve all seen the shows. The envelope comes in. The man and woman are nervous. The audience leans forward. The host unfolds the piece of paper, and out comes those words: “You . . . are the father!” DNA tests are simply and accurate. But what distinguishes these one-off paternity tests on TV from real life is that in a real life court room, you cannot always request a DNA test.

In a court room, paternity is implicit if it has already been established. There are four ways to establish paternity in Illinois. First is the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form that each parent is given the opportunity to sign and date, in front of a witness, immediately after the birth of the child. This adds the father’s name to the birth certificate. By signing this, the parents have agreed the father is the biological father, and both have waived their right to genetic testing.

After the VAP, establishing paternity gets more complicated. Second, Child Support Services can enter an Administrative Paternity Order to make sure a child is financially supported. Third, a party (the child, mother, mother to be, a government agency, or the supposed father) can file a paternity action, and finally, marriage establishes paternity.

If any of those four cases have been fulfilled, paternity has been established, and during a case, that paternity has already been accepted by the court, and the father’s right to demand a DNA test has disappeared. This is by no means a dead-end, however, and having the right lawyer on your side can secure the right to a DNA test, no matter what paternity has been established before. If you’re caught in an uncertain paternity situation, contact a Chicago Family law attorney at The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman today.

How Can You Help Your Kids Cope With Your Divorce?

Feb 05

Ending your marriage can be one of the most stressful times of your life. If this is a bad time for you, imagine how it must feel for your kids. When children’s family dynamic is suddenly changed, it can be deeply upsetting. We are not saying you should remain in a miserable marriage for the sake of the kids – there is evidence that shows staying in a bad marriage is even worse for children in the long term. However, there are ways you can handle your Chicago divorce that may help your children adjust and accept these changes.

father comforting daughter

Honesty and understanding can help children cope with divorce. Call our law offices to begin the divorce legal process.

How do you address the topic of divorce with your children? The key is honesty. You can be honest about the split in an age-appropriate way that your kids will understand. For younger children, they may need a simple explanation such as, “Mommy and Daddy have been fighting so much, we think that living apart may help us get along and be better parents.” Older children will need a bit more information, but you can still keep the explanation appropriate, especially if it concerns sensitive subjects.

During the divorce process and while you are co-parenting in different households, the way you treat each other is important. You may be dealing with raw, difficult emotions, but you should not air out your conflicts in front of the kids. It can help to approach parenting as a business arrangement, with the well-being of your children a common goal.

You will need to listen to your children’s needs and concerns during this time, and reassure them that they are loved by both of you even if you no longer love each other. Establishing consistent routines in your new household can give your children a sense of stability. Even if your ex does things differently, your kids will understand what is expected of them in your home if you stick to the rules. You can also come up with new family traditions that may help ease the blow of a divorce and make new, positive memories.

Divorce is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. The Chicago divorce attorneys at Michael P. Doman can help you during each stage of the process.

Implications of changed custody terms in the 2016 version of the Illinois Marriage & Dissolution Act

Nov 02

The law continues to develop and change as the needs of the community change. Over the past few years, there have been several major changes to the Marriage and Dissolution Act, and so a comprehensive rewrite has taken place. As of January 1, 2016, the Illinois Marriage & Dissolution of Marriage Act (Public Act 99-90) will include some fundamental changes across several areas of divorce. Today we discuss the changes to changed custody terms.changes to child custody terms in Chicago divorce law

Joint and Sole Custody– These familiar terms will become obsolete. This change came, in part, because of a general misunderstanding of how Joint and Sole Custody function, and also in part to include new ways to divide responsibilities between parents.

Visitation- Another familiar term, “visitation” is disappearing from the Act, in part to reduce the stigma of being the parent that only has “visitation rights” as opposed to being the “custodial parent”.

New Terminology

Allocation of parental responsibilities for decision-making– Significant decisions include place of residence, education, religion, and health related decisions. It is important to note that with this new allocation terminology, there is more chance for a logical division of decisions that does not automatically favor the “custodial parent”.

Allocation of parental responsibilities for parenting time– “Parenting Time” refers to the time in which one of the parents will be responsible for the caretaking functions and non-significant decision-making with regards to the child. This replaces the terms “custody” and “visitation.”

Allocation Judgments– Instead of a custody order, the parties will construct, or the court will order, “Allocation Judgments.”

Implications:

As the law is currently written, a flaw was that decision-making power generally went hand in hand with being awarded the “custody” of the minor children, and child support was required of whichever parent was not awarded custody. This new terminology allows for different decisions to be allocated to different parents. In theory, even though a child predominantly lives with one parent, the other parent may have the right to decide where the child goes to school, or other major decisions.

Child support will be less affected by these changes, as the allocation of caretaking responsibilities will still be a main factor in determining who will pay child support.

Are you concerned that these changes will affect your next custody modification or child support review? Contact the Law Office of Michael P. Doman, Ltd.

How to Change a Child Support Order in Chicago

Sep 14

You’ve been taking care of the children since the divorce and making due with the child support that comes in, but you just found out your ex has a new job and makes much more than ever before. You want your children to benefit from their parent’s income increase, but your ex thinks you should still be satisfied with what the original support order determined. What can you do? Read more for the steps to change a child support order in Chicago. shutterstock_128447138

Income levels and the needs of your children will change over time. In recognition of this, once every three years the Division of Child Support Services in Chicago will notify you that you are able to request a modification of your child support order. However, you do not have to wait for this notification, if one of these other conditions exists:

If any of these factors are at play, you can file a request for a modification review with the Division of Child Support Services. If the DCSS agrees that changes in your circumstances mean you are eligible for a review, they will require both parents to submit income information. This will be used to recalculate the amount of the child support order.

What if the court doesn’t agree that your child support should increase? Whether you feel like your spouse was dishonest in the reported income or that the courts do not fully understanding the needs of your children, you are able to contest the modification results. The process will depend on whether you have a judicial order or an administrative order.

If you need to fight for the rights of your children, the Law Office of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. is here to help. We focus on divorce and family law because we care about the needs of children and families. Contact us today for a consultation on your unique case, and let our extensive experience help your children.

Child Support- My ex isn’t paying! Chicago Divorce Lawyer

Aug 13

You already went through the pain, stress, and difficulties of obtaining the child support order, and like most of us you would expect that to be the end of it and payment to be guaranteed. The court has spoken, and your ex must obey. However, having an order in place doesn’t mean your ex will come through. If he or she is not paying at all, is late in paying, or is claiming an inability to pay, check out our Do and Don’ts for getting the money your children need:Chicago Divorce Lawyer

DON’T

DO

We understand your frustrations. You may not be married anymore, but having children means that you and your ex will both always be parents. There is no avoiding or eliminating those responsibilities to your children. They need and deserve the support from their non-custodial parent, and the law agrees. A Chicago Divorce Lawyer at The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd we have the experience you need to petition the court for enforcement of your child support. We will vigorously defend the financial support rights of your children. Contact us today for a review of your case.

Sole or Joint Custody- which one is right for me? Ask a Chicago Divorce Lawyer

Jun 18

Jessica has decided to file for divorce. Her husband, although loving at first, has grown more and more distant over the years. She feels they have nothing in common anymore and are merely roommates instead of married partners. Jessica knows this emotionally vacant environment is not the best place for her or her two young sons. Her Chicago divorce lawyer is asking her what custody arrangement she wants to pursue. Although she knows that her sons love their father and it would be difficult for them to be separated from him, she is afraid that if she agrees to joint custody, she will end up losing valuable time and experiences with her children. Should she fight for sole custody, or agree to joint?Sole or Joint Custody, picture of family seperating

Many people make the mistaken connection that “sole custody = sole parenting.” While it is true that with sole custody you will have the sole power to make the important decisions, such as medical care, living arrangements, religious and schooling choices, it does not mean that the other parent is automatically shunned entirely. The father, in this scenario, will still have parenting time rights.

Joint custody is a situation where both parents will still have the power to make the critical decisions for their children. Jessica and her husband, while emotionally estranged, are amicable enough that it would be reasonable to expect them to be able to cooperate on these major decisions. Joint custody would not even be an option for them if they were unable to do so. Although Jessica fears losing out on time with her children, joint custody would not mean an equal 50/50 split of time. Most likely Jessica would still be awarded “residential custody” of the boys, meaning they would primarily reside with her.

In this situation, Jessica could pursue either option. Many factors go into determining custody. Not only does she want to choose what she believes will make her the happiest and most fulfilled, but more importantly she needs to choose what will be best for her children. Her divorce lawyer chicago will be there to help her, and we want to be there to help you too. Contact the legal team at The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, LTD to review your case.