#HarveyLawSpeaks | What is the Difference Between a Status and a Hearing?

Photo: Courtroom Boot Camp

Many times, people go to court and expect an immediate ruling to be issued after speaking to the Judge. Sometimes you will find yourself ranting to the judge about the entire issue and you’re cut off, or the judge doesn’t immediately issue a ruling.

In domestic relations courts in Illinois, a court date is scheduled with a certain objective, such as status or a hearing. It is imperative to know the difference so that you (and your attorney if you have one) can be adequately prepared.

A “status” is where a judge is given an update regarding the case, and he or she can determine what steps, if any, are needed before the next scheduled court date. A status is not meant to take very long and usually is an update to the Judge. Most Judges schedule several status dates at one time on a given morning.

A “hearing” on the other hand gives the parties a chance to give testimony and present evidence and other information. A hearing gives the Judge more relevant information about the case, and he or she is more likely to issue a significant decision. During a hearing, the Judge usually allocates more time for you to speak related to your case. The Judge will review evidence and even allow testimony from not only you, but your witnesses (if it applies).

Knowing if your next court date is a status or hearing can allow you to understand what you need to bring to court and what you can generally expect. It can help you from being frustrated because you thought you were there for a hearing and it was just a status.

#HarveyLawSpeaks | Back to School

It’s back to school time in Illinois! Transitioning from the summer to the academic school year can be a little hectic, especially when you’re co-parenting. Here are seven tips to help ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible:

1. Communication: It’s important that both parents communicate effectively. The academic schedule can vary with half days and school breaks. Talking with your co-parent about upcoming important dates can make things a little easier when scheduling so you can avoid last minute scheduling mishaps.

2. Pick Up and Drop Off: Since we’re not in the summer break anymore, the times may change for when to pick up and drop off your child. Make sure the timing and location with your co-parent is discussed and understood.

3. Make proper adjustments: We are no longer in summer break. Usually that means bedtimes and free time is a lot more flexible. Now that school is back in session, make sure both parents are on the same page when it comes to bedtime and free-time.

4. Share important information: Both parents should be involved in the child’s academic progress as well as events such as field trips and after school activities. If you know something important is happening with your child, be sure to share it with the other parent.

5. Talk to the teacher: Both parents should be able to have discussions with the child’s teacher(s) to ensure the child is performing well academically. Discussions with the teacher(s) can assist both parents stay in the loop and know what they can be doing individually and collectively to ensure they are both helping the child have a successful school year.

6. Talk to the school: Make sure the school has both parents’ contact information in the case of an emergency and one parent cannot be reached.

7. Talk to your child: It’s important to get your child’s input when it comes to academics and extracurricular activities. Sometimes another parent is more ideal than the other to assist with certain subjects, or there may be a big project coming up and the other parent was unaware of it. You don’t have to use them as a go-between, learn from them how to maximize their comfort. Talking to your child will help you figure out if you need to facilitate his or her progress by talking to the teachers or possibly enrolling the child in tutoring.

 

These tips can help making the transition from summer to the academic year a little easier.

Have a great school year!

*If there is an active order of protection that information is not necessary to share.

 

#HarveyLawSpeaks | Relocating With Children

Image: MovinGal

Choosing to relocate when children are involved is difficult, especially for those who are divorced or have shared parenting time with another parent. Before a parent can relocate with a child from Illinois, he or she must follow certain procedures, even if he or she has a majority of parenting time with the child.

The revised Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, which became effective January 1, 2016, addresses what steps a parent must take when attempting to relocate with a child.

Under the new statute, only the parent who has a majority of parenting or either parent with equal parenting time may relocate with the child. If your child’s primary residence is located in the Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, McHenry County, or Will County, you may relocate anywhere within a 25 miles radius without going to court. If your child’s primary residence is not located in the above counties, you may move anywhere within a 50 mile radius without going to court.

If you do not fall into the above categories, you must give the other parent at least 60 days written notice before the relocation unless notice is impracticable or otherwise ordered by the court. The notice must include the following:
1. The intended date of your relocation
2. The address of your intended new residence, if known, and
3. The length of time the relocation will last, if the relocation is not for an indefinite or permanent period of time.

If the other parent consents to the move, he or she would sign the written notice. The parent who is relocating who then file the signed notice with the court. If the other parent objects to the move, the moving parent must file a petition and ask the court for permission to relocate.

Image: Moveline

It is important to note that ultimately, the decision allowing or prohibiting a child to relocate with a parent rests on the best interests of the child. The judge could take the following non-exclusive factors into consideration:

• The child’s wishes
• The reason(s) for relocating
• The non-relocating parent’s reason(s) for objecting to the relocation
• Educational opportunities for the child
• The quality of each parent’s relationship with the child

Relocating is a big step, especially with children. If you are a parent with a majority of parenting time (or equal), you must take these steps PRIOR to moving with your child. Failure to do so poses a risk to your current parenting time situation, and relief could be granted to the non-relocating parent if he or she is objecting to the relocation.

#HarveyLawSpeaks | New Child Support Statute in Illinois

Child support has officially changed in Illinois as of July 1, 2017. Illinois is now the 40th state to use the Income Shares Model to calculate child support.

Under the old law, child support was calculated based on the net income of the support-paying parent:
• One child: 20%
• Two children: 28%
• Three children: 32%
• Four children: 40%
• Five or more children: 50%

This method only considered income of the supporting parent, and did not take into account the income of the receiving parent or the actual costs of raising a child. Under the new statute, the income shares model, both parents are essentially responsible for their own share of the basic child support obligation. This method is considered a more equitable and accurate method for calculating child support because it uses data that reflects realistic child rearing costs.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) has set forth economic tables to determine how much money would be allocated for the care of the child/children if both parents were living together. This amount is called the basic child support obligation, and includes basic needs for the child for food, clothing, transportation, and other necessities. Child care (such as babysitting or daycare), health insurance, uninsured and extraordinary medical expenses, and extra-curricular activities are not included in this amount.

Computation of the Basic Child Support Obligation
1. Determine each parent’s net income: The income shares legislation defines net income as gross income minus the standardized tax amount.
2. Both parents’ combined net income is considered the “household” income.
3. Select the corresponding amount from the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligation.
4. Calculate each parent’s percentage of the basic child support obligation. This is done by dividing each parent’s net income by the household income.

Shared Parenting Formula
Additional steps are used when each parent has at least 146 nights (40%) with the child/children in a year.

1. The corresponding amount from the Schedule is multiplied by 1.5. This accounts for the increase in costs for running two households, transportation, food, and other basic costs required to accommodate a shared parenting plan.
2. After each parent’s percentage of the basic support obligation is determined, the allocated amounts are then cross multiplied by the percentage of parenting time of the other parent. The costs are then offset to determine the support amount.

 

                                                                                                       Modifications
It is important to note that the statute contains a important provision that provides for modifications of child support that were ordered/enforced prior to the statute going into effect. The new statute, by itself, does not constitute a substantial change of circumstances warranting a modification. This provision was included for the sole purpose of preventing motions for modification being brought to court solely based on the new legislation.

Many factors are considered when calculating child support, and are case specific. If you have any questions regarding the new statute as it relates to your situation, please schedule a consultation with us today.

#HarveyLawSpeaks | Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is a special time for families to express appreciation and love they have for mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, and other maternal figures. It’s also a day that could stir up mixed emotions for families who have dealt with or are currently dealing with divorce. When a blended family is involved, it may require a little extra sensitivity and time management to ensure everyone is happy on this day.

Some divorced couples aren’t as amicable as others, but it is important to try to facilitate parenting time with Mom on a day like Mother’s Day. This is a great way to show children that even if their parents are not together, everyone respects the mother’s role in the family (even in a family that has shifted). A lot of times with divorced families, the mother and/or father remarries, and stepparents can play an important role in the upbringing of the children. To that end, showing appreciation for step-parents (or bonus parents as we like to call them) can show children the positive aspects of being a part of a blended family.

Here are some tips on how to spend Mother’s Day for divorced parents and blended families:
• Children should be able to spend Mother’s Day with their mother, so if it’s not addressed in your parenting plan, try to see if any adjustments can be made informally so that the children and mom can have an enjoyable day together. Negotiating is never easy, but you can gain a lot of cooperation in the future by showing a willingness to compromise.
• Mother’s Day is a great opportunity for the other parent to show the children they respect the relationship between the children and their mom no matter what. Let the children plan what they would like to do with their mom, and help them make these plans happen.
• Whether you are the birth mother or Bonus mother, it’s important to show respect for the other woman’s role in the children’s lives. Where a Bonus mom is very involved with the children, try to make her feel involved in the special day (even if they have spent a portion of the day with their mother). Perhaps plan something the day before or the day after. Being tied to that day is simply semantics. As long as they are celebrated- that’s what matters. Please note, this of course depends on the nature of the relationship between the Bonus mother and the children, so follow your children’s lead on this. Bonus parents can be an integral part of a child’s life, and it’s important to make them feel appreciated.

The key to celebrating Mother’s Day for divorced/blended families is respecting the mother’s role and facilitating any plans. Parents, stepparents, and the children will feel more connected if everyone puts aside their differences and works together to make it a great day.

Have a great Mother’s Day!

#HarveyLawSpeaks | New Child Support Law in Illinois

Photo: MensDivorce.com

Beginning July 1, 2017, a new law will take effect in Illinois, completely changing the way child support is determined. The law was signed into Public Act 99-0764 by Governor Rauner on August 16, 2016 and will modify sections 750 ILCS 5/505 and 750 ILCS 5/510 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Under the current law, child support is calculated based on the net income of the support-paying parent:
• One child: 20%
• Two children: 28%
• Three children: 32%
• Four children: 40%
• Five or more children: 50%

The new law eradicates the percentages shown above, and sets forth the income shares model approach, currently adopted in 39 (soon to be 40) states. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) will set forth economic tables for the court to refer to determine how much money would be allocated for the care of the child/children if both parents were living together. The court would look at the combined income of the parents, cost of living, and the number of children. Each parent, rather than just one, would be responsible for their allotted portion based on his/her income.

It is important to note that the courts must apply the tentative guidelines once they are given by DHFS, unless there is a finding that application of these guidelines would be inappropriate after considering the best interests of the child. This would involve the following factors:
• The financial resources/needs of the child;
• The physical/emotional conditions of the child;
• The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents stayed together;
• The child’s educational needs

As the law has not gone into effect yet, worksheets and formulas are still in development. We will continue to post updates as more information comes out. Stay tuned!

#HarveyLawSpeaks | Spring Break and Parenting Time

Photo: SouthernMamas.com

As we enter the warmer months, one thing on everyone’s mind is Spring Break—what to do, where to go, and how to spend the time off. When it comes to co-parenting, parents must decide (if they haven’t already) how parenting time will be determined during their child’s week off.

Spring Break is often a busy time for family. Whether you want to go on a vacation or stay in, there is lots of planning involved to coordinate everyone’s schedules. Unfortunately, when parents are no longer together, and Spring Break is not addressed in a parenting plan, complications can arise when it comes to which parent will have the child during the week or how the week will be split.

Here are some co-parenting tips for dealing with Spring Break:

  1. Examine your court order: Most orders should reference school breaks, and specifically which parent will have the child on certain days (if not the whole week). Usually the holiday break will take precedent over which parent’s respective weekend it may be. But ensure that the order has that information.
  2. Share important information: If you take your child on vacation, make sure to share with the other parent important information, such as where you’ll be, flight/hotel information, and when you will be returning with the child. This is important to know because he or she may be taking the child out of the country out of state- common courtesy goes a long way.
  3. Keep contact respectful: If you child is on vacation with the other parent, it’s okay to check in every once in a while, but be respectful of the other parent’s parenting time with the child. One call in the morning another call in the evening. It’s important for the child to be able to enjoy their own break without the other parenting constantly checking in on their whereabouts.
  4. Be flexible: It’s Spring Break! You want your child to have fun, so keep that in mind if he or she doesn’t call/text you right when expected.

 

Have a great Spring break!

 

#HarveyLawSpeaks | Making Your Goals Attainable

One of our favorite “lawyer” things to do besides attend court is go to speak to bright young minds about our profession. In what has now become an annual activity, Harvey Law Office was invited to speak at Alain Locke Charter School, where we spoke to Fourth Graders about our profession, goals, and the steps to take to make a particular goal attainable.

One of the amazing things about speaking to young people is you can never really stick to a particular script. Sure we knew we wanted to speak about being a lawyer and our path to the law- – but we also wanted to speak to them about the importance of goals and some of their own goals.

They were all very excited to share some of their goals for the future and even some goals to work towards achieving now.

We explained to them the importance of the little things you can do that can make a big difference. They understood that even today things such as:
• Waking up early everyday to get to school on time
• Making the honor roll
• Finishing a book
• Making a friend
• Turning in an assignment on time
All are behaviors that can ultimately affect their big goals.

And big goals indeed did they have. They included:
• Making the world a better place
• Traveling the entire world in 3 days
• Getting into a good college
• Going to the Olympics
• Becoming a police officer
• Becoming a lawyer (our favorite!)

Thank you again to the teacher Ms. Keim for inviting us to speak to her class. Watch out world, future leaders loading now!

#HarveyLawSpeaks | Who Pays for College Expenses?

In Illinois, during a divorce even with young children, the court typically will handle the issue when it comes to college and college expenses. Where it has typically been governed by statute, it was not until 2016 that the Illinois legislature took their time in really explaining how college expenses would be handled going forward (750 ILCS 5/513)

It is important to remember that contribution to college expenses is not the same as child support. College expenses include the following: tuition, room and board, and book costs. If divorced parents cannot come to an agreement on how to pay for college, you will need to consult your divorce decree or parenting agreement to see if it addresses this issue. Otherwise, you will need to return to court, and a judge will determine how college will be paid for per the statute.

In order to make a determination the court examines the following:
1. Each parent’s income and their ability to contribute. This is different from child support wherein the court currently only looks at the income of the none-custodial parent.
2. The child’s ability to contribute. The court will examine financial aid, scholarships, grants and/or work study or if the child has a job how much if any, he or she can contribute.
3. The child’s academic performance. In order for the court to continue to award child support, the child must maintain a 2.5 GPA.
4. Access to information. Typically the money for college/college expenses is not given to the other parent, it is paid directly to the school. A parent has to have access in order to make those payments and should be able to access the student’s grades as well.
5. Also the contribution to tuition is capped at the cost of tuition at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign at the time of the student’s enrollment.

Speak to an attorney today if you want to discuss college expenses: (312) 981-0096

#HarveyLawSpeaks | The Importance of a Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representative

Image by CareersinPsychology.org

A child representative or a Guardian Ad Litem (“GAL”) is an attorney appointed by the court for the parties’ child, usually in proceedings involving allocation of parental responsibilities, relocation, abuse, or general welfare purposes. The child rep/GAL will investigate the facts of the case, interview the parties and the child, and will speak to the court regarding recommendations in accordance with the best interests of the child.

By definition, a child representative and a GAL have almost identical duties. What is the main difference? A GAL may be called as a witness for cross-examination, whereas a child representative may not be called as a witness.

Having a Child Representative or GAL essentially forces parties (and their attorneys) to prepare better and be on their best behavior. It is crucial to understand that judges respect the authority of the Child Rep or GAL, and the court trusts their judgment of what is in the best interests of the child. If the parties do not come to an agreement, the judge will ultimately make the decision. The judge has no independent “behind-the-scenes” knowledge of the case, and that is ultimately the purpose of the child rep or GAL: to find out the facts and report back to the court. Since they are giving the court a look “behind the scenes” so to speak, it is imperative to have a civil relationship with the child representative or GAL on your case. Hostile or adversarial behavior is not appropriate with the child rep or GAL. Adverse behavior, difficulty making compromises, inability to follow directions and the like are all issues the Child Representative observes when giving reports to the court.

A Child Representative or GAL does not represent either party. They represent the child. They are the court’s eyes and ears to a case. It is vital to show the GAL that you are engaged, courteous, and take your case seriously. Avoid any acrimonious behavior with the opposing side and instead focus on your own parenting abilities and efforts at co-parenting. As long as a GAL is on your case, you are under observation and do not want anything to negatively affect the GAL’s thoughts on your fitness as a parent.