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DuPage County child support enforcement attorneysIf you are a single parent entitled to child support, you have probably come to rely heavily on these funds. Whether it is child care, groceries, educational or extracurricular activities, or other costs, raising a child is expensive. When a parent does not receive his or her child support, it can be hard to make ends meet. Furthermore, child support orders are legally binding court orders. A parent cannot simply choose to stop payments. If a parent fails to meet his or her child support obligation, he or she can be charged with contempt of court and face other serious consequences.

Enforcing a Child Support Order

In order for a child support arrangement to be enforceable, it must be officially ordered by the court. If you and your child’s other parent had an informal child support arrangement, you will need to take the steps to establish a formal child support order. If the legal paternity of your child has not been established and you want to collect child support from your child’s father, you will need to establish paternity before you can collect child support.

Court-mandated child support payments are not optional. If your child’s other parent is not paying court-ordered support, you have two basic options. You may contact the Illinois Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) and initiate an enforcement action through this agency or you may enforce the child support order through the Illinois court system. The latter option may help you receive a favorable outcome more quickly than going through the DCSS, but the option you choose will be based on your unique situation and needs.

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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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