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DuPage County property division attorneyWhen spouses choose to end their marriage through divorce, they will need to address and resolve multiple different financial issues. During the process of dividing marital assets, real estate property owned by either or both spouses will be one of the key issues to consider, since these are likely to be some of the most valuable assets a couple owns. In addition to determining how to handle ownership of their marital home, couples may also need to consider other properties they own, such as vacation homes or commercial properties. To ensure that these assets are addressed properly, it is important to work with an experienced divorce lawyer, as well as other experts who can perform appraisals of property and provide guidance about financial decisions.

Factors to Consider When Dividing Real Estate and Other Marital Property

If a couple’s marital home or any other piece of real estate property was acquired during their marriage, it will usually be considered a marital asset that will need to be divided along with other property. However, even if real estate was owned by one spouse before getting married, it may be converted from separate property into marital property if both spouses used the property, made improvements, or contributed to mortgage payments and other expenses related to the home. In some cases, a spouse who owns real estate that is considered separate property may be required to repay the other spouse for their contributions to increased property values or equity in the home.

Divorcing spouses may sell their marital home and divide the proceeds from the sale, or one spouse may retain ownership of the home, while the other spouse receives other marital property of a similar value. When selling real estate property, spouses should be sure to understand whether capital gains taxes will apply to the profits they earn. If one spouse will own the home, the mortgage will usually need to be refinanced, and the other spouse will need to be removed from the home’s title and deed. A spouse who plans to maintain sole ownership of their home should be sure they will have the financial resources to make mortgage payments and pay other ongoing expenses, including utilities, maintenance, and property taxes.

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DuPage County child custody lawyerDuring a divorce, child custody is often one of the most important concerns that a couple will need to address, but it can also be one of the most divisive issues. When the relationship between parents has broken down, they will be unlikely to agree about what is best for their children, and each parent may believe that they should be granted sole or primary custody. Those who are going through a divorce will need to understand how the law applies to their situation, and by working with an attorney, they can ensure that their parental rights will be protected while also arguing for what is in their children’s best interests.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Child custody consists of two separate, but related, issues. Legal custody, which is known in Illinois as the “allocation of parental responsibilities,” addresses the decisions parents make about their children’s lives, including their education, the medical care they will receive, religious practices or training, and the extracurricular activities they will participate in. Physical custody, which is known as “parenting time,” is the time children will spend in the care of each parent. During their parenting time, each parent will have sole responsibility regarding the routine decisions about children’s day-to-day lives, as well as the right to make emergency decisions about children’s health and safety.

While it is possible for one parent to be granted sole legal custody, courts usually believe that it is in children’s best interests for both parents to be involved in children’s lives, and parents will usually share parental responsibilities. However, different areas of responsibility may be allocated solely or primarily to one parent in some cases. For example, if only one parent had been involved in the children’s education during their marriage, such as by helping with homework and attending parent-teacher conferences and school events, that parent may be allocated sole responsibility in this area.

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DuPage County divorce lawyerIf you are like most people living in the United States in the 21st century, you use social media on a daily basis. Apps and websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok allow you to connect with friends and family, follow news stories, and communicate with others who share your interests. However, this level of connection may also have its drawbacks, especially if you are going through a divorce. As you go through the process of ending your marriage, you should take steps to protect your privacy and avoid any issues that could affect your divorce case.

Social Media and Privacy Concerns

During the divorce process, making sure your personal information is private is likely to be a major concern. If you and your spouse have shared a computer or other electronic devices, you may have had access to each other’s social media accounts. To ensure that your spouse cannot log into your account to view your personal information or make posts in your name, you will want to change your passwords, and you may also want to update your account settings to make sure you can only log in from certain devices.

You should also be aware of privacy settings on the posts you make. While you may be able to restrict access to certain posts so they can only be viewed by your close friends or family members, you should be prepared for the possibility that your spouse could still view this information. For example, a mutual friend may decide to take a screenshot of a message or photo you posted and send it to your spouse. To make sure your privacy is protected, you may want to avoid posting or sharing any information that you would not want your spouse to see.

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Naperville IL divorce business assets attorneyIn most situations, the divorce process will involve multiple different financial issues that will need to be addressed. When determining how to divide marital property, spouses will need to consider their physical belongings, financial accounts, real estate property, retirement savings and benefits, and debts. Business interests owned by spouses, either together or separately, will be a major factor in these considerations, especially for those who own professional practices. For doctors, dentists, therapists, chiropractors, accountants, or other professionals, a business will not only represent a significant investment of time, money, and effort, but it may also be a primary source of income. Because of this, professionals will usually want to determine how they can continue owning and operating their practice after their divorce is complete.

Addressing Ownership of Professional Practices

Family-owned businesses are treated the same as other types of property, and a professional practice that was founded during a couple’s marriage will be considered a marital asset, while a practice that was owned by one spouse before getting married will usually be considered non-marital property. However, in situations where a spouse contributed money or work that helped a business owned by the other spouse grow or increase in value, the spouse who owns the business may be required to reimburse the other spouse for their contributions.

During the divorce process, a business valuation will need to be performed to determine the full monetary value of a professional practice. Different approaches may be taken during this valuation, including looking at the business’s assets and liabilities, the amount that could be received if the business was sold, or the business’s projected earnings over the next several years. Personal goodwill is another factor that may need to be considered when addressing professional practices. For example, a doctor may have built up a good reputation among their patients, and the value of their practice may be based on their ability to continue to provide medical care to clients.

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Naperville IL paternity attorneyFor many parents, the identity of a child’s father is not in question. In fact, under Illinois law, a mother’s spouse is presumed to be her child’s legal parent, as long as the child was born during the couple’s marriage or within 300 days after the couple was separated, got divorced, or one partner died. However, this means that if a child is born while a couple is unmarried, or if a situation does not meet the criteria described above, paternity will need to be established to ensure that the father will be recognized as the child’s legal parent. Paternity may also need to be addressed if the identity of a child’s father is in doubt or is known to be someone other than the mother’s spouse.

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

The simplest and most common way of establishing paternity is for both parents to fill out and sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form, which can be done at any time after their child is born. This form can be provided by a hospital, and it is also available on the website of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, at a local county clerk’s office, and other sources. By filling out this form, the parents will both recognize that a man is the child’s father. This will allow him to be listed on the child’s birth certificate, and he will have full parental rights regarding the child.

Paternity can also be voluntarily acknowledged if the biological father is a person other than the child’s presumed parent. In these cases, the presumed father may submit a Denial of Parentage form, and the biological parents may submit a VAP. The mother, the presumed father, or the child may also submit a petition in court to declare the nonexistence of the parent-child relationship. This type of legal action must be initiated within two years after the petitioner knew or should have known the facts of the case. For example, a presumed father must file this type of petition within two years after he first discovers that he is not a child’s biological father.

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Naperville IL child support modification attorney2020 has been a difficult year for many families. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a great deal of stress for many people, requiring them to stay at home and avoid contact with others whenever possible. Parents have had to determine how to provide for their children’s educational needs as they learn from home or attend in-person classes part of the time, and they may have struggled to balance these concerns with the need to work from home or follow the proper safety measures while in public. On top of everything else, many parents have had to deal with financial difficulties due to layoffs, business closures, or restricted working hours. Divorced or separated parents will want to understand how changes to income or other financial obligations will affect the child support they pay or receive, and they may need to take steps to pursue a modification of their child support orders or other terms of their parenting plan.

Modifications Based on a Change in Circumstances

Typically, the terms of a divorce decree or child support order will only be changed if it can be demonstrated that a parent has experienced a significant change in circumstances. A change in the income earned by either parent will usually qualify as a significant change. For example, a job loss may cause a parent to be unable to meet their child support obligations, and they may ask for a reduction in the amount they will be required to pay. If a parent who receives child support suffers a loss in income, they may ask for an increase in the amount of child support payments to ensure that they can continue to meet their children’s financial needs.

Parents are required to continue to pay child support until a modification goes into effect. To ensure that they do not suffer legal consequences, a parent may need to use unemployment benefits, personal savings, or other financial resources to pay child support. If a parent owes child support, any COVID-19 stimulus payments they receive from the government may be intercepted and applied toward the amount owed.

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Naperville high asset divorce attorneyGetting a divorce will require spouses to address many different legal and financial issues, and this process can become very complicated, especially in cases where a couple has a high net worth. Sometimes, a spouse may try to take advantage of the complex nature of these proceedings and attempt to unfairly influence the division of marital property by hiding certain assets from their partner. If you believe that your spouse is concealing assets from you or is otherwise refusing to meet their legal obligations during the divorce process, you will want to work with an experienced divorce attorney to determine how to proceed.

Common Methods of Concealing Marital Assets

A spouse may attempt to hide money, property, or other assets because they do not think their former partner should receive certain items, or they may do so out of an attempt to make things more difficult for the other spouse. A person may also believe that they should receive a greater share of the marital estate because they earned the majority of the family’s income. However, attempting to illicitly claim assets outside of the standard procedures for dividing property is illegal. All of a couple’s assets, including their marital property and the separate property each spouse owns, should be disclosed during the divorce to ensure that all aspects of the couple’s financial situation are considered when dividing marital assets.

Some ways that a spouse may attempt to conceal marital property include:

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Naperville parental alienation attorneyWhen parents choose to get divorced, they will need to address a wide variety of legal issues related to their children, and they will need to determine how they can continue to work together as co-parents to meet their children’s needs in the years following the end of their marriage. Since divorce can be an emotional and stressful process, parents’ negative attitudes toward each other may spill over into their interactions with their children and affect children’s relationships with both parents.

When one parent attempts to negatively influence their children’s attitudes toward the other parent, this is known as parental alienation. Whether it is done intentionally in hopes of gaining an advantage in decisions about child custody or is a by-product of a parent’s emotional difficulties during the divorce process, parental alienation should be addressed promptly to ensure that it does not cause harm to the children or affect the other parent’s parental rights.

Signs of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation can take a variety of forms. It can involve overt comments by a parent about their former partner to their children, such as blaming them for the divorce or claiming that they do not love their children or want to spend time with them. In many cases, parental alienation is more subtle, consisting of activities such as removing a parent as a contact at children’s schools or scheduling activities that the children would enjoy during the other parent’s parenting time.

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Naperville IL divorce attorneyGetting divorced can have a major impact on your finances. You will probably need to make a number of adjustments as you shift from managing a home using the income that you and your spouse earned together to using a single income to cover your ongoing expenses. If there is a disparity between the income you earn and the amount your spouse makes, this could introduce additional complications into your divorce proceedings. In these cases, spousal maintenance, which is sometimes referred to as spousal support or alimony, may be appropriate.

When Is a Spouse Eligible to Receive Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is not appropriate in every divorce, but it may be awarded if one spouse earns the majority of the family’s income or if the other spouse has been reliant on the wages and benefits earned by their former partner. For example, a stay-at-home parent may not currently earn any income, and their former spouse may be required to make ongoing payments to ensure that they can maintain their accustomed standard of living following the divorce.

Spouses may agree in their divorce settlement that maintenance will be paid, or the decision about whether to award maintenance may be left up to the judge in their case. This decision will be based on a number of factors, including the income each spouse earns, their ongoing needs, their ability to find work and earn suitable wages and benefits, and decisions about child custody and parenting time. A judge may also look at whether a spouse made sacrifices to their career because of the family or whether one spouse helped the other obtain education or training that helped them advance their career.

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Naperville IL divorce attorneyIf you have recently ended your marriage, or if you are currently going through a divorce, you may be dreading the holiday season. As a newly single parent, you may still be adjusting to spending less time with your kids, and the prospect of being alone during a time that had previously been focused on family may have you stressed out. When adding these concerns to the ongoing risks that everyone is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be wondering how you will get through the coming weeks. However, by making the right preparations, you can not only survive the holidays, but you can begin the next year on the right foot.

Suggestions for the Holidays After Your Divorce

Here are some tips you can follow during this time:

  1. Plan parenting schedules in advance - You and your former spouse may have already reached an agreement on how your children will divide their time between the two of you, or you may still be hammering out the details of your parenting plan. You will want to be sure to understand which days your children will spend with each of you during the holidays, how children will be transported between your homes, and any other details, allowing you to avoid conflict with your ex. You should also share this schedule with your children so they know what to expect.

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DuPage County retirement asset division lawyerGetting a divorce involves dealing with many different types of legal and financial concerns. While you may be primarily focused on matters such as the custody of your children or the ownership of your property, you will need to understand how your divorce will affect your financial future. If you have begun saving for retirement, understanding what will happen to these savings will be crucial for ensuring that you can maintain financial stability later in life. An experienced divorce attorney can help you determine how to divide retirement accounts and pension benefits with your spouse.

Division of Retirement Plans and Pensions

During your divorce, you and your spouse will need to divide all of your marital property. This includes most of the assets that you acquired, either together or separately, during your marriage, as well as your marital debts. While Illinois law does not require assets to be divided equally between the two of you, it does state that your property should be divided in a fair and equitable manner. 

Either you or your spouse may own one or more retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s or IRAs, and these accounts may contain funds that you have deposited or had withheld from your income, as well as contributions from your employer matching a percentage of the amount you have saved. All funds contributed to these accounts during your marriage will typically be considered marital property, and during divorce, they can be split between you and your spouse, or you may make other arrangements, such as one spouse keeping the majority of a retirement account’s funds and the other spouse maintaining ownership of the family home.

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Naperville prenuptial agreement attorneyIn most cases, marriage is meant to be a permanent partnership, and a couple will plan to stay together for the rest of their lives. However, it is important to remember that a significant percentage of marriages end in divorce. While the actual divorce rate in the United States is difficult to determine accurately, it is generally considered to be between 40 and 50%. Even though it may be unpleasant to contemplate, recognizing the distinct possibility that your marriage may end in the future can help you consider how you want certain issues to be handled in a potential divorce.

By discussing these matters with your partner before you get married, you can determine whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you. This type of legal agreement can provide both of you with reassurance that you will have the financial resources you need if your marriage ends, and by making decisions now, you can take some of the uncertainty and conflict out of the divorce process. A prenup can also include provisions to ensure that certain assets will be given to your children, or it can be used to protect a business that you or your partner own from being negatively affected by a divorce.

Terms of a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenup will usually focus on financial matters related to the property owned by you or your partner, the assets you acquire during your marriage, and the income that each of you earns. You can specify how property will be divided or allocated if you get divorced or separated, if one spouse dies, or in the case of many other events that you may specify. Your prenup can also include terms detailing each spouse’s rights and responsibilities toward different assets during your marriage, including the right to buy, sell, use, manage, exchange, or lease property.

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Naperville divorce modification attorneyThere are many different important decisions made during a divorce, and in many cases, one or both parties may be unhappy with the final divorce decree or judgment. Fortunately, these decisions are not necessarily “set in stone.” If things have changed in your life or your former partner’s situation, or if you need to make adjustments to better meet your children’s needs, you may be able to pursue a post-divorce modification. However, you should be sure to understand what can and cannot be changed and the procedures that you will need to follow when doing so.

Allowed Modifications to a Divorce Order

While there are some parts of your divorce agreement or judgment that may be changed, one issue that cannot be updated after divorce is the division of marital property. Even if you believe that this division was unfair or did not take certain factors into account, you will be unable to reopen that issue and change the decisions that were made.

Other decisions, however, may be modified, but to do so, you will need to show that you, your ex-spouse, or your children have experienced or will experience a “substantial change in circumstances.” These changes could include the loss of a job or a promotion or demotion that has affected one party’s income, or it could involve significant changes in a person’s needs or abilities, such as a medical condition that would cause a parent to be unable to provide care for children. It may be possible to seek a modification of the following issues:

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Naperville IL divorce attorneyFor some couples, the idea of planning for divorce seems downright unnecessary. Not everyone sees the end of their marriage coming, even when it has been unraveling for some time. It is easy to remain in denial or to be so swept up in work, friends, and other activities that you do not realize the marriage is over until the warning signs are unmistakable. Marriages can end suddenly, and when they do, couples are often left to race around and pick up the pieces, with little to no preparation at all. 

How to Start Preparing for an Illinois Divorce

If you were not expecting your relationship to end so abruptly, you may be left with little choice but to face the music and begin chipping away at the filing process. Even the most peaceful splits entail a great deal of work from both parties. From arranging parenting plans and discussing possible spousal maintenance to dividing assets and planning for relocation, your hands will likely be full as you are thrust into the separation experience.

If you, like many spouses, feel blindsided by your suddenly imminent divorce, you can make the filing process as efficient as possible by making the following preparations:

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Naperville IL parenting plan attorneyOut of all the issues that divorcing couples must decide on, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time can often be the most difficult. Even in the most amicable of divorces, child custody decisions can become heated. This is why it is important to have a skilled DuPage County family law attorney working for you when drawing up an equitable parenting plan agreement.

Important Considerations in an Illinois Parenting Plan

Although it may seem impossible to be proactive for every situation that may come up, there is a range of decisions that you and the other parent will want to make sure you address in order to avoid serious parenting disagreements in the future. These topics include:

  • A basic parenting time schedule – The parenting schedule should clarify how much time the child will spend with each parent. The schedule should also spell out clearly who will be responsible for transporting the child for parenting time exchanges. If there are no safety concerns, and both parents get along fairly well, exchanges are usually done at each other’s homes. However, if there is too much acrimony between parents, then a neutral location may be better. In cases where safety is a concern, such as when domestic violence has been an issue, then locations such as police departments may be chosen.

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Naperville IL divorce lawyerWe experience stress every day, whether we are at work, at school, or even just dealing with mundane tasks, but major life events like a divorce can put even more stress on you as you deal with the immense pressure of making decisions that will affect you and your family for the rest of your life. Fortunately, there are certain things you can do to help yourself through this troubling time. Here are a few tips to help keep your stress levels to a minimum during your divorce:

#1. Get Your Priorities in Order

Before you even begin making decisions in your divorce, you should know what you want out of the divorce. What is most important to you? Do you want to make absolutely sure that you get your fair share of the marital property? Or are you more concerned with getting the parenting time you want? Figure out what your priorities are, and focus the majority of your time and energy on them.

#2. Allow Yourself to Grieve

Technically, a divorce is the ending of a legal relationship, but as much as it is a legal matter, it is also an emotional matter. You are ending what was once a very important relationship in your life. It is only natural that you feel sad, angry, or even depressed. Allowing yourself to fully feel what your body and mind are telling you to feel is the only way you can grieve, heal, and move on with your life.

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Naperville IL divorce attorneyFiling for divorce is a momentous decision. Before you begin the process, it is a good idea to ensure that you are prepared in every way possible. The last thing you want is to be knee-deep in divorce proceedings and realize you are unprepared to navigate a critical question. 

Preparing For Divorce Financially

The first thing any professional will recommend is to begin saving money. It is not only attorneys that cost money—you will likely encounter many different bills, and without your spouse’s income, it may be harder to pay them. It is imperative, however, that you do not attempt to hide your assets, at least not money such as your paycheck that can be considered marital property. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property is distributed to the spouses in the most equitable manner possible upon a divorce. Concealing money that is earmarked as marital property, as spouses’ paychecks usually are, can lead to accusations of hiding assets.  

It is also a good idea to consult a financial professional sooner rather than later, bringing any financial documents you have so that you can develop a realistic picture of your finances at the outset of a divorce. A professional will be able to give specialized, individualized advice as to whether you should take the step of closing joint accounts or opening a private account, or what to do with certain assets like stocks and retirement accounts. These instruments are so individual, and each situation so unique, that often, only a professional can assess your potential financial issues with any degree of accuracy.

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Naperville business valuation attorneysBusiness ownership is a key asset that you must include in your divorce. Even if you started your business before you married, the amount that your business increased in value during your marriage will likely be part of your marital property. Calculating the value of your business is a vital step because it will affect how you divide other marital properties. If you wish to maintain complete ownership of your business as part of your divorce, a higher valuation may force you to compensate your spouse with more assets. Business valuation for a divorce can be complicated and requires professionals with experience in both divorce and business.

Choosing a Valuation Method

There are multiple ways that you can calculate the value of your business:

  • The asset approach values the assets that a business owns and subtracts the liabilities to calculate its total value.
  • The income approach looks at the business’s past profits and cash flow to predict its future income.
  • The market approach estimates what the business would be worth in a sale based on the recent sales of similar businesses.

A business evaluator may consider all of the methods, but the valuation method that they rely on the most will depend on the type of business that you own. For instance, the market approach may not be useful if there is not a comparable business that was sold, and the asset approach becomes more difficult if your business has a lot of intangible assets.

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DuPage County divorce attorneysAn inheritance is property that you receive when a loved one passes away. Though the death of a loved one is often a tragic event, an inheritance can provide you with a bit of financial security. If you are married or plan on getting married, this can pose a unique situation if you were to get a divorce. Because many married couples have shared finances, one of the biggest parts of divorce is determining how to divide assets and debts. In Illinois, this process is done in an equitable manner, which does not necessarily mean that both spouses will come out of the divorce with half of the marital estate. A variety of factors are weighed to determine what is equitable, including each spouse’s income and earning potential, the duration of the marriage, and each spouse’s non-marital property in relation to the marital property. So, what does all of this mean for a spouse who has received an inheritance?

Understanding Marital vs. Non-Marital Property

Before your property can be divided, you must determine which of your property is non-marital and which of it is considered marital property. In general, any assets or debts that you have acquired during the time that you were married is considered to be part of the marital estate. This means that this property is subject to division during the divorce process. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, and inheritances are one of them. As per Illinois law, property that one spouses acquired by gift, legacy or descent is exempt from being considered marital property.

Keeping Your Inheritance Separate

Even though an inheritance is technically non-marital property, there are ways in which it can have both marital and non-marital characteristics. If this happens, then your inheritance could be considered part of the marital estate and subject to division between you and your spouse. For example, if you received a cash inheritance, and you deposited that money into an account that you share with your spouse for household expenses, it could be considered part of the marital estate.

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Naperville child support lawyersParents who have divorced or separated will sometimes disagree on how much each side should have to pay towards child support. If the parents were never married, it can be an ordeal for the mother to prove paternity in order to require the father to pay child support. Even after proving paternity, the father may be unhappy about having to pay. Whatever the reason may be, not paying the required child support amount is harmful to the children because it takes away money that is meant for living expenses. As the parent who is supposed to receive child support, you need to make sure that your child support order is being enforced.

Start with Communication

You should try to resolve the issue with your co-parent out of court before filing a complaint about a violation of your child support order. Find out why they missed their payment and when they plan to make it up. If they could not afford the payment that month, you can try to work with them but remind them that they are still required to pay the amount stated in the child support order unless the order is modified. If they do not respond or are being uncooperative, you may have no choice but to seek legal enforcement.

Enforcing Child Support

If you receive your payments through Illinois’ Division of Child Support Services (DCSS), the DCSS has the means to legally force your co-parent to pay child support. If you do not use the DCSS, you can file a motion in court claiming that your co-parent is in violation of your child support order. The court has several ways of retrieving money from your co-parent, including:

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