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DuPage County child custody attorneysDivorcing and unmarried parents sometimes have disagreements about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. When these disagreements require court intervention, an Illinois family court judge may appoint an attorney called a guardian ad litem who is tasked with representing the child’s interests. A parent involved in a child custody dispute may also request a guardian ad litem (GAL) to appointed during a child-related legal dispute.

Guardian ad Litem Investigations

GALs are often appointed in family law cases involving especially contentious child-related disputes or allegations of domestic violence. Because children cannot adequately advocate for their own best interests in court, a guardian ad litem advocates on the child’s behalf. The GAL will typically conduct an investigation in order to learn more about the circumstances of the dispute so that he or she can offer an informed recommendation to the court. This can include investigating the parents’ homes and everyday lives as well as investigation of other individuals important to the case. The GAL may also interview school officials or other people involved in the child’s life. He or she may review court documents, financial statements, the child’s school reports, and other relevant documents.

Making a Recommendation to the Court

Once the guardian ad litem has conducted a thorough investigation, he or she will use all of the information gathered to decide what he or she thinks is best for the child with regard to the child custody case. The GAL then makes a formal recommendation to the court explaining his or her findings. GALs receive special training and are considered expert witnesses during legal proceedings. Although the court is not mandated to follow the GAL’s recommendation, courts typically put a great deal of importance on the GAL’s advice.

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Naperville family law attorneysIllinois law requires parents to financially contribute to their child’s upbringing. In the case of unmarried or divorced parents, this most often involves child support payments. Typically, child support payments are terminated when a child reaches eighteen years of age and is therefore legally an adult. The now-adult child is expected to start taking responsibility for himself or herself and make his or her own money. However, if the child suffers from a disability, he or she may be unable to do so. In situations like these, child support payments may be extended past the typical time period.

Disabilities That Qualify for Extended Child Support

Both mental and physical disabilities can qualify a person for child support after he is an adult. Section 513.5 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5) states that when an individual’s mental or physical impairment “substantially limits a major life activity,” he or she is considered to be disabled. These impairments may include psychiatric conditions, developmental disorders, intellectual disabilities, and physical handicaps. Any impairment that directly affects the child’s ability to perform daily living tasks may qualify the child for extended child support.

Factors Considered by Illinois Courts

In order for a child to remain eligible for child support as an adult, the disability must have been diagnosed by a medical professional or otherwise discovered while the child was eligible for regular child support. The court may determine that one or both parents are obligated to continue financially supporting the disabled adult. Decisions about child support for a disabled adult are made with consideration to:

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Naperville family law attorneysAn order for spousal maintenance, or spousal support, in a divorce is issued on a need-based review of each individual case. There is no presumption that one spouse or the other will be required to pay spousal support. Spousal support, though less common than in previous generations, is still awarded in many divorce cases to help alleviate the financial burden of the divorce on an economically disadvantaged spouse. Once the final divorce judgment is entered, the spousal support order becomes enforceable by law and the supporting spouse must comply or face court sanctions. But what about during the divorce? Can spousal maintenance be ordered while the proceedings are still ongoing?

Temporary Orders

The simple answer is yes. Spousal support can be ordered by the court before the final divorce judgment is entered, but the order takes a somewhat different form. The process for obtaining a temporary maintenance order is different as well.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (720 ILCS 5) provides that either party in a divorce may request temporary spousal maintenance via a motion and a financial affidavit. The affidavit is a sworn (or affirmed) statement that lays out a party’s current financial situation, including all income, debts, and expenses. When filing, the spouse must also include supporting documentation such as tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and others as appropriate. The court will also take into account the current arrangements regarding parenting time and parental responsibilities.

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