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DuPage County family law attorneySome of the most heated disputes during an Illinois divorce are those that deal with issues concerning the children. In some cases, a parent may use the child as a way to hurt or “get back” at the other parent for whatever reason. In other cases, a parent may just be so worried about the outcome of the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities that they decide to take the child without the permission of the other parent before they lose them. If you believe that your child has been abducted or is at risk of being abducted by their other parent, you should speak to an Illinois family law attorney to discuss your options.

Defining Child Abduction

It can be frustrating when your child’s other parent is late to drop off the child or does not exercise their visitation rights consistently. However, in some cases, a parent may act much more irresponsibly than inconsistent drop-offs. In some cases, a parent may go so far as to even abduct the child from their other parent. In the legal context, child abduction is a rather specific act that comes with serious consequences.

According to Illinois law, child abduction occurs when a person:

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DuPage County family law attorneyMost people would agree that the bond between a parent and their child is a special, sacred one. Illinois courts have adopted this principle and use it in nearly all legal matters concerning children. When parents are unable to agree on certain issues, like parenting time or visitation, the judge will make the final decision with the intention of preserving the relationship the child has with each parent. Under Illinois law, fathers have just as much of a right to a relationship with their children as mothers do. Even though it may feel like a never-ending battle when you are an unmarried father, it is important to realize that there are ways to secure and protect your parenting rights regarding your child.

Is Your Child’s Paternity Established?

Before an unwed father can legally claim any rights to his child, he must first establish paternity of the child. In many cases, establishing paternity can be as easy as filling out and signing the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form at the hospital when the baby is born. In cases in which the child’s paternity is contested, you may have to use other methods of confirming the child’s paternity, such as genetic testing. Either parent can request genetic testing to determine whether or not the alleged father is truly the biological father. Once you have established paternity through any legally recognized method, you can petition for rights regarding your child, such as parenting time and parental decision-making responsibilities.

Rights to Parenting Time

Any issue involving children in Illinois family courts is decided with the child’s best interests at the forefront. When it comes to parenting time, in most cases, the judge will determine that spending time with both parents is in the best interest of the child. In addition, the law clearly states that it is presumed that “both parents are fit and the court shall not place any restrictions on parenting time” unless it is found that either parent would endanger the child’s wellbeing.

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Naperville child support attorneyDivorce affects families from all walks of life, but the specific issues that each family deals with are different depending on their circumstances. When it comes to families with high incomes, the division of property and assets can be especially challenging. Child support can also easily become a contentious issue between high-earning parents, especially if the parents’ financial situation is not covered under the Illinois child support guidelines.

Understanding the Income Shares Model

In an effort to maintain as much fairness as possible, the state of Illinois currently uses an income shares model to calculate the amount of child support that should be paid each month. It is not the responsibility of just one parent to financially support a child, and as such, instead of just the paying spouse’s income being considered, both parents’ incomes are taken into consideration when the payment calculation is made. The calculation also takes into consideration the number of children that are being supported and how many overnights the children spend with the non-custodial parent each year.

Situations With Income Above and Beyond Guidelines

Calculating child support is standardized in Illinois according to the guidelines set forth by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). In the vast majority of cases, these guidelines will make sense and will work. In some cases, however, the judge may deviate from the guidelines if he or she believes that using the guidelines would create a situation that is unequal or inappropriate. If parents earn income that is above and beyond the income shown in the basic child support schedule, the judge has the discretion to determine the amount of child support to be paid each month, though it cannot be less than the highest amount in the shares schedule.

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Wheaton IL child support enforcement lawyerIn most situations in which a child’s parents are not married or in a relationship, there will be some type of formal custody agreement detailing the rights and responsibilities of each parent, including the allocation of parenting time between them. Both parents have a legal obligation to financially provide for their child, whether or not they are the parent who is required to pay child support to the other parent. Most often, the parent with less parenting time is the one who pays support, the amount of which is determined by a formula that considers income and other factors. There are a number of reasons why a person may not make their child support payments, which can be extremely frustrating and financially straining for the other parent. If your child’s other parent is behind on child support payments, an Illinois child support enforcement lawyer may be able to help.

Failure to Support in Illinois

In most cases, there are few excuses for a parent missing or not paying child support payments without first notifying the court or petitioning for a modification to their support payments. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states that any parent who fails to comply with a child support order will be punished the same as in any other contempt case. Typically, a person will not be found in contempt of the support order unless they have willingly defied the order or there is a history of missed or late support payments.

Taking Action to Recover Child Support

If you are having trouble receiving timely and accurate support payments from your child’s other parent, you may be able to request a contempt proceeding to determine whether or not your ex really is in contempt of the order. This proceeding will allow your ex to come forward with an explanation as to why they have not paid the child support, such as losing their job.

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Naperville IL paternity attorneyOver the years, there have been many significant advancements in law and society when it comes to recognizing different family situations. For example, same-sex marriage was not only frowned upon but was illegal in many parts of the country for hundreds of years until a 2015 Supreme Court ruling. Unfortunately, there are also many ways that the laws still reflect traditional family structures. For example, Illinois generally presumes the father of any child born to a married mother to be the mother’s husband, though there are many situations in which this may not actually be the case. If a person wants to contest the paternity of a child, it is possible but it can be difficult, which is why hiring a paternity lawyer is recommended.

How Do I Contest Paternity If I Am Married?

When a child’s mother is married when the child is born or within 300 days before the child was born, the person the mother is or was married to is legally presumed to be the father of the child. Establishing paternity is a crucial step in solidifying a father’s rights to his child, but it also means that a legal father will be held to certain parental responsibilities, like child support, in the event of a divorce. If a man learns or suspects that he is not the biological father of his wife’s child and wishes to contest his paternity, he must take swift legal action, or the judge could choose to deny his petition.

How Can Paternity Be Disproven?

Once the father files the petition to contest paternity, the court will almost certainly order genetic testing to be completed. Genetic testing is an extremely accurate way of being able to tell whether or not a child is biologically related to an adult and usually only requires a simple cheek swab. Once the orders are given for genetic testing to be completed, the presumed father, mother, and child must all give samples so the DNA can be compared. If the results indicate that the man is not the child’s biological father, the legal parent-child relationship may be ruled to be nonexistent.

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