Monthly Archives: September 2012

Back to School Tips for Divorced Parents

The beginning of the school year can be a hectic time for any parent. However, the return to school can be an especially stressful time for divorced parents who have to balance their child’s busy schedule between two households. The following are back-to-school tips to create a smoother transition.

Plan ahead for the upcoming year- The school year is a busy time for both kids and parents. Often times divorced parents are tempted to plan their child’s schedule for the school year independent of their former spouse. However, this can lead to needless misunderstanding between parents and children. Parents can ease their children through the challenges of balancing two separate homes by sitting down together and creating a month-to-month schedule for the entire school year

Maintain communication with the school- It is important for both parents to stay equally engaged in their child’s school life. Even if one parent was more involved with school affairs prior to the divorce, it is important that each parent is added to school mailing lists and attends parent-teacher meetings to monitor their child’s progress. One suggestion is to make “homework time” a ritual at both homes so that both parents have an opportunity to help their child with homework.

Engage in direct communication with your former spouse- Throughout the school year, it is essential to keep your ex-spouse up to date with schedule changes and upcoming plans. Lack of direct communication between parents can unintentionally put children in the middle of conflict. An effective way to directly communicate with your spouse is through email. Communication via email creates documentation of communication between parents that can reduce the potential for future conflict and confusion.

Top Ten Myths in Illinois Divorce Cases [Myth #8]

Myth: All support payments are tax deductible.

Wrong. Maintenance payments ordered by the court or covered in a Marital Settlement Agreement if they abate upon the death of the payee, are generally tax deductible to the payor and tax includable to the payee. Child support payments are not deductible by the payor or tax includable to the payee.

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The College Factor: Three Points Divorced Parents Need to Consider

Navigating the college selection process and funding a child’s college education can be stressful for all parents, but can be especially stressful for parents who are divorced. Fortunately, divorced or separated parents can minimize the stress associated with college preparation through proper planning, open communication, and the involvement of both parents.

Understand the Financial Obligation
Illinois is one of the few states that recognizes the obligation of divorced parents to contribute to their child’s college education. While both parents have this obligation, the amount each must contribute need not be equal. The Illinois courts will consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to, the financial resources of both parents, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved, the financial resources of the child, and the child’s academic performance.

Proactively Plan for College Expenses
Addressing higher education expenses in the divorce agreement is essential. A college support agreement should specify exactly what expenses will be covered, and what percentage of those expenses each parent and the child will be responsible for.

Embrace the Process
The selection of a college or university is often one of the first important decisions a child will make when moving into adulthood. Although a college choice is emotional for any student, it is especially vital for divorced parents to put the focus on their child and not on personal differences. It is beneficial for parents to openly discuss their budget and how their financial resources will impact their child’s choice of college. Children will benefit if both parents are able to work cooperatively with each other.

Through open communication and rational expectations, divorced and separating parents can create a plan to support their child throughout the college career as well as achieving their own critical personal and financial goals.

Is it Really Easier to Seek Forgiveness Than Permission?

A New Law Penalizes Parents Who Violate Visitation Orders

On August 21, 2012, Governor Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 3823 into law.  The law gives judges the authority to suspend driver’s licenses, impose fines and order jail time for people who deny non-custodial parent visitation rights without having good cause.  Although the court can reinstate a license if the violating individual complies with the visitation order, most parents can ill afford to lose a driver’s license, pay a fine or serve jail time while effectively caring for one’s children.

Senate Bill 3823, otherwise known as the “Steven Watkins Bill,” resulted from the 2008 murder of a Cass County man shot by his child’s grandmother when he went to pick up his daughter for court-ordered visitation.  Although the court awarded visitation to his parents, his ex-wife moved to Florida and hasn’t delivered the child for a visitation since November of 2010.  The new law modifies Section 625 ILCS 5/7-701 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.

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