Myth: If I have no income, I can’t be ordered to pay child support or maintenance.
Not true. Illinois courts, as do most states courts, will go out of their way to protect children in connection with child support payments. If a party does not have employment, the court can take assets from that person, set them aside in what’s known as a section 503-g trust, and utilize the proceeds from that trust for child support. Courts will routinely require an unemployed spouse to keep a job diary, so the fact that someone may be between jobs doesn’t mean they don’t have an obligation to look for and obtain paid employment. In some cases, parties are underemployed; somebody who has demonstrated an ability to earn three or four hundred thousand a year will be required to pay child support at that level, and will not be allowed to pay child support based on an income of fifty or seventy-five thousand unless the lower paying job is a good faith employment. So courts will impute income to somebody who is not working and earning a traditional and reasonable level.
Myth: If I have shared or joint legal custody, and a shared visitation schedule, I won’t have to pay any child support.
Not true. Courts are loathe to not award child support. They will look at the parenting schedule but they will also pay very close attention to the financial resources of the parties and more often than not will award the less financially well-to-do parent child support, provided that parent has at least fifty percent of the parenting time or more.
Myth: Joint legal custody means that the children spend half of their time with Mom, and half of their time with Dad.
That is not true. Joint legal custody is a legal term that means major decisions concerning education, medical care, and religious upbringing are made jointly by the parents. Joint custody has nothing to do with where the children live. The parent with whom the children primarily live is known as the primary residential parent; the other parent has time with the children according to a parenting schedule. Under a joint legal custody arrangement, the children could live with each party equally, but more often than not they live with a primary residential parent and then spend specific time with the other parent, typically alternating weekends, shared holidays, and some week day visits.