When Your Spouse Refuses to Participate in the Divorce Process

Spouse Refuses to Participate in the Divorce ProcessThe best-case scenario for a divorce is an uncontested divorce, in which both parties agree to the dissolution of the marriage and cooperate in the dividing of marital property and determining things like alimony and custody (if necessary). But sometimes one spouse refuses to participate in the divorce process, making it difficult to complete the divorce process.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need both parties to sign the papers in order to finalize a divorce. All you need is to file a petition for divorce and make sure you can prove your spouse is aware of the petition. Further, you have to be able to show you gave them a chance to respond, and each state has their own time requirements before the Court will find someone in “default.” In Illinois, all contested divorce cases start by serving your spouse with divorce papers. If he or she does not respond within 30 days of receiving your petition for divorce, or otherwise file any motions with the Court, you can ask the Court to find your spouse in default and to set the case for hearing on a default Judgement. If your spouse does not show up to court on the appointed date, the court may decide to grant you a default divorce. By failing to respond or show up to court, your spouse forfeits their right to have a say in the divorce process or judgment.

However, there are some instances in which the spouse cannot be located. So long as you can attest to the Court that you have made all reasonable attempts to locate your spouse, you can get what is known as a publication by divorce, in which you publish notice of you your petition for divorce in the local media outlets of the last known whereabouts of your spouse. Your notice has to run a certain number of times before the Court will accept service by publication, so it’s important to check your local Court Rules or consult with an experienced attorney for the required procedure. If your spouse still doesn’t do not respond within 30 days, most courts will grant a default judgment.

If your spouse did file a response to your petition for divorce, but refuses to participate further in the process, the judge may proceed as though it is an uncontested divorce, but you might have to wait to be assigned a court date. If you get a court date and your spouse fails to appear in court on the appointed day, the judge may enter orders based on the divorce petition and response.

As always, a competent family law attorney can help with this process, as even seeking a default divorce can be stressful since there are specific rules you must follow. If your spouse thinks they can avoid divorce by simply refusing to sign the papers, a letter from your attorney can set them straight. When they see that the divorce can proceed with or without their cooperation, most people will choose to cooperate in the divorce. There are many reasons one might refuse to sign divorce papers, but an experienced family law attorney can usually ensure that the divorce proceeds according to your wishes.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 20 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

Common Mistakes People Make During Divorce

Common Mistakes People Make During DivorceWe all make mistakes, especially when we’re stressed and feeling emotional. Few things are more stressful or more emotional than divorce, but that’s also when it’s most important to refrain from making any mistakes.

When litigating and/or settling divorce, it’s nothing less than our lives at stake. In addition to financial assets and alimony, any marriage with children will also have to deal with dividing decision-making duties and parenting time schedules. These are all things no one can afford to lose, so if you’re getting divorced, make sure you’re not making these common mistakes:

Not listening to the experts.

We’ve already talked about why it’s important to hire a divorce attorney rather than trying it DIY, but it’s equally important to listen to the attorney you’ve hired. They’re the expert and they’re able to look at the situation without all the emotional baggage you’re bringing to the divorce. You don’t have to take their advice if you don’t feel like it’s really what you want, but if your attorney is strongly advising you to do (or avoid) something, you need to take that under serious consideration.

Taking advice from people other than your attorney.

Just as important as taking advice from your attorney is not taking advice from people other than your attorney. When getting divorced, everyone will be full of advice, and it may be tempting to take advice from everyone from your best friend to your pharmacist. Even though they may have the best of intentions, they won’t necessarily know what’s best for you.  Even if you trust their opinion or believe they have all the facts because they went through a divorce or custody battle in the past, understand that they don’t have all the facts. Every divorce is different and more than likely, the Judge handling your case now did not hear your friends’ case. Outcomes in divorce vary greatly depending on the Judge you have, and it is your attorney’s job to advise you on how the Judge on your case may rule.   Also, as we posted previously, the laws changed significantly in Illinois in 2015, 2016 and 2017 via separate amendments to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. So, all of these changes mean your divorce will be handled much differently than those heard by the Court even just a year ago.

Fighting over the children.

In many divorces, each party just wants to hurt the other, and few things hurt worse than denying someone access to their children. But it’s important to set aside your hurt feelings and pride and consider what’s really best for the children. If the other party wants to spend time with their children and they’re not putting them in any danger by doing so, the Court will insist that you allow them to have time with their children. Denying time or the ability to participate in a co-parenting relationship usually backfires on the parent withholding the children. Finally, your relationship will benefit from it in the long run and your children will benefit from having both parents remain active and present in their lives.

Continuing to litigate a case when settling would make more sense.

There are many reasons people choose to continue to litigate a case rather than settle. Sometimes people think they can get more money out of their spouse if they have their “day in Court.” Other times they just want to get revenge on their spouse, and they decide to do that by dragging out the matter as long as possible.

But in many cases, you can get more money by settling the case as soon as possible and saving yourself the additional legal fees involved in continuing to litigate. And while you may want revenge for the pain your spouse inflicted on you, choosing to drag out the litigation, rather than settling and getting it over with, can do as much damage to you (both emotionally and financially) as to the other party. There’s no point in taking the time and energy to hurt someone else if you hurt yourself in the process. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney can advise you when it is worthwhile to litigate the case than to settle.

These and many other mistakes can be made when you allow yourself to be carried away by the harrowing emotions that can come along with divorce. Instead of focusing on the negative feelings you’re experiencing right now, try to consider the kind of relationship you want with your ex-spouse and your children later on down the road. Let that foresight (and your attorney) be your guide in how you handle your divorce.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for divorce cases, as well as all types of family law for more than 20 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

Need Help With Fees For Summer Camps And Activities?

It is that time of year – time to sign the kids up for the summer camps and activities to keep them busy while they are out of school. But if you are dealing with an ex-spouse, this can be difficult. Learn more from Barbara Sherer here.

If you are the parent receiving child support, and there is not a separate allocation for extracurricular fees such as summer camps or daycare during breaks, you can petition the court and ask for additional amounts to be allowed for this.

What if you are the parent that is paying the child support and order is vague on this issue? Another good question. It depends on your income, what the order does say, etc. Every situation is different.

The best way to have your questions answered is to contact our office today.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for divorce cases for more than 20 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

How Do I Get Temporary Support Until My Divorce Is Final?

temporary supportDivorce agreements commonly include orders for alimony and/or child support, but the divorce process can take months, or even years, to complete. So what do you do if you can’t wait that long to pay your bills?

Fortunately, you can file a petition for temporary relief. Once the court receives the proper form (which varies, depending on the court), a brief hearing will be scheduled in which you can make your case as to why you need financial assistance now. Under the new amendments passed to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) in 2016, hearing on temporary child support or temporary maintenance (a.k.a. alimony) can be heard on a summary basis, unless one or both parties request a full evidentiary hearing with good cause. A summary hearing means that the Judge will review the parties’ Financial Statements, which must be filed in all divorce cases, and supporting financial documents that are attached to the Financial Statements to make a ruling on temporary support. No testimony is presented during these hearings, but the Judge rather reviews the documents alone. However, if a party wants to present evidence, perhaps to counter the other party’s arguments for support, then an evidentiary hearing may be scheduled in lieu of a summary proceeding.

In any hearing for temporary relief, the judge will first determine whether you should receive any alimony or child support, and if so, how much you will receive. The Judge can also divide the party’s use of and access to assets, such as real estate, cars, and access to bank accounts, all on a temporary basis until the divorce is finalized. The temporary order will likely include a provision that prohibits either party from selling significant financial assets before the divorce has been made final.

If you can’t afford an attorney, you do have the option of filing a petition for temporary relief on your own. Most of the court’s forms can be found online or at your local Family Court. You may file the paperwork yourself and receive a valid order for financial support from a Family Court Judge without having to pay for an attorney, but it is always suggested that you seek legal counsel, as these motions do require a lot of financial documentation as well as submission of various forms and affidavits.

If you and your spouse are still getting along fairly well and they make a verbal promise to continue supporting you, that’s great, but don’t rely on it. Attorneys always recommend you get a promise in writing, especially when your livelihood is at stake. Even the best intentions can go unfulfilled, so don’t rely on a verbal contract alone.

If you and your spouse have managed to reach your own agreement regarding spousal and/or child support, you can request that the Court enter an Agreed Order memorializing these terms. The judge will then review the terms to make sure the agreement is fair to both parties before approving any agreed order.

The process of getting divorced is stressful enough. You don’t need to make it more stressful by wondering how you’re going to pay the bills. Fortunately, the courts recognize this and have put in place systems to help give you one less thing to worry about.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for divorce cases for more than 20 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

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Child Support Changes In Illinois

Child Support Changes In IllinoisIn the past, when a couple with children got divorced, one parent (the non-custodial parent) would be made to pay child support to the custodial parent. But in 2016, Illinois changed its divorce law to exclude titles like “custodial” and “non-custodial.” Instead there is only “parental responsibilities” and also “parenting time,” which get divvied up between the two parents.

At this time, Illinois law still requires the parent with less parenting time to pay child support to the primary caregiver, but that’s all about to change in July 2017. The current system is outdated in that it presupposes a household in which one parent earns the family income and the other parent stays home to raise the children. While many families do still operate this way, an increasing number of families have two parents who work outside the home and the Illinois Legislature recently passed a new law that takes into account these changes.

Rather than ordering one parent to pay a certain percentage of their income based on the number of children being supported, the new law orders the courts to determine how much it costs to raise a child depending on the combined net incomes of the parents. Based on this figure, the Court then decides what each parent must pay toward the cost to raise the child, allocating their responsibility based on his or her income.

For example, let’s assume that based on the parents’ net income, the Court determines that the cost to raise a child is $2,000.00 per month. Husband makes 70% of the household income and Wife makes 30% of the household income. Wife also has primary parenting time with the children. Husband may be looking at paying $1,400 per month of this $2,000 cost, and the Wife would be paying $600. Once you offset these amounts, Husband’s direct contribution to Wife would be $800.00 per month.

As referenced above, the new law also takes into account how much time each parent spends with the children. If the parents share 50-50 parenting time, or one parent has at least 40% of the time with the children, the new guidelines may not apply, and the Court will have to determine a proper child support figure.

Although that last provision was no doubt created with the best of intentions, it may have some unintended consequences. One or both parents might try to spend at least 40-50% of the time with the children, at least on paper, as a way of avoiding paying extra child support, rather than because such an arrangement would be best for the children.

A parent may likewise argue that the other parent should not get to spend that much time with the children because they want more child support, without taking their children’s best interests into account. If both parents start fighting to have the children for a minimum of 40% of the time (or approximately 146 nights each year), a judge may have to step in and determine whether the parents are acting in their own financial interests or the wellbeing of their children.

If one parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court will assume their income is 75% of the current U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Federal Poverty Guidelines for an individual. If that’s case, they will be required to pay a minimum child support obligation of $40 each month.

The new law will go into effect on July 1, 2017, so there’s still time to prepare for these changes.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for divorce cases for more than 20 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

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Who Can Claim Children As Dependents? What To Do When Your Divorce Does Not Specify

Who Can Claim Children As DependentsIllinois marital and divorce law was recently changed to redefine “custody” as “parenting time.” Under the new law, the parenting time is split between the parents. In most cases, one parent ends up with the majority of the parenting time (determining which party gets the most parenting time depends on a number of factors to be considered by the judge ruling in the matter). In some cases, especially in amicable divorces, the parties may agree on a parenting plan that divides up the parenting responsibilities between them. They then merely ask a judge to approve their plan.

The parent awarded the majority of the parenting time is known as the “custodial parent,” for situations where certain federal or state statutes still require use of the designation. Generally, this distinction also falls on the parent who gets the primary parental and decision-making responsibilities of the children, but sometimes, such as in the case of a 50-50 parenting arrangement, it is a technicality defined in the parenting plan. Although the term “custody” no longer has any meaning in the context of Illinois family law, it is still used for the purpose of designating one parent that can claim the children as dependents on their tax returns.

In some cases, parents may agree to a Parenting Plan that divides the parenting time equally between the parties and gives them both parental responsibility of the child. As mentioned above, even if the parents are able to work out such an agreement, Illinois law requires one of them to be labeled the “custodial parent” for tax purposes. In order for the other parent to be able to claim the child as a dependent on their tax forms, the designated “custodial parent” must fill out a Form 8332 in order to sign off on the other parent’s right to claim the child dependency tax exemption.

If you and your ex-spouse agreed to evenly divide the parenting time and responsibilities between you, one of you should still have been labeled the “custodial parent.” If that title went to the other party, you can ask them to fill out Form 8332 so you can claim your children as dependents on your tax form and take the coinciding deduction.

It is most common for parents to agree to alternate the child exemption, regardless of who was given the title of “custodial parent.” The reason being that the non-custodial parent is still often paying child support for purposes of assisting with the child’s needs when the child is in the care of the custodial parent.

If such was the case for you and your ex-spouse, you might want to check in with them regarding whose turn it is. Whoever did not get to claim the tax credit the year before should get to claim it this year. If this is your first time filing taxes after the separation or divorce, talk with the other parent to make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to filing taxes. You can choose to have the “custodial parent” claim the exemption first and switch off from there or work out another system that works for both of you. It is always best for there to be a court order that clearly defines the tax dependency arrangement, including who can file and whether that parent can file in even or odd tax years.

When filing your taxes, it also helps to get a written declaration from the custodial parent that they will not claim the child as a dependent and have them attach the declaration to their tax return. This would expedite the resolution of any issues filing your return.

No matter your situation, it is always best to maintain open and respectful communication with your ex-spouse regarding the parenting of the children and the terms of the divorce. It makes everything much easier, including the children’s ability to adjust to their new circumstances.

If you are having any family law issues, consulting a knowledgeable attorney can help. At Sherer Law Offices, we can guide you through the legal steps you need to take to ensure your rights are protected.

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What is Required for Planning for A Special Needs Child During Divorce?

special needs child during divorceThere are very few things that are harder to deal with when going through a divorce than planning for your children’s future when you have a special needs child. The burden of supporting your child on the day-to-day basis can fall squarely on your shoulders as the parent with the majority of parenting time. The daily living and special moments may test your self-confidence to parent your child alone.

A pending divorce that involves a special needs child brings up unique issues of decision-making, parenting time, and also property division that can become more complex to negotiate. During the process of your divorce, you must consider what your child’s special needs entail and work with your attorney to determine what a day would be like caring for your child, particularly from a financial standpoint.

The State’s child support guidelines don’t normally address the extra expenses that come with a child of special needs, but there are special laws that allow for additional support above and beyond percentages of income. There may be a need for special medical care, therapy services, medical equipment, nutritional needs, and even paid respite care for the parent who has been awarded the majority of parenting time with the child. The uncertainty of the future costs makes it difficult to estimate the related expenses of a special needs child during a divorce.

Legally, the goal is to identify what the child’s best interests are and to understand them. Some examples include:

  • Who will the child live with?
  • What amount of contact will the parents or other parties have with the child?
  • What amount of child support will be paid to the parent who is caring for the child for the majority of the time?
  • Are there going to be transportation issues relating to the parenting schedule?
  • How will the parties share medical expenses and other costs that go above and beyond just daily needs?

The devised parenting plan should spell out all pertinent information and instructions on the special needs child’s care, daily routine, medications, and safety plans. A great staring point would be to look at how much you and your ex agree concerning your child’s disabilities and abilities. Additionally, when putting together a divorce agreement, special attention must be paid to parenting arrangements, estate planning, and the child’s eventual transition into adulthood. Legislation and case law are always evolving in this area and more family attorneys are dealing with an increasing amount of cases involving a special needs child.

In a divorce decree, it is important to discuss with your attorney the unique issues that come up in the child’s transition into adulthood. These may include:

  • Guardianship
  • Recreation
  • Social skills
  • Independent living
  • Custodial care

In most cases, child support and custody (now “parental responsibilities” in Illinois) end at the age of majority, or when they graduates from high school. The Court does, however, have the ability to extend child support beyond high school for students attending college or for children with special needs. Divorcing parents of a child with special needs, particular those who have severe impairments, face the reality of life-long care giving and co-parenting beyond just age 18

When considering spousal maintenance and child support, you need to think about the child’s eligibility for public benefits as a minor and as an adult. It is very important that your family law attorney work with a special needs attorney and an experienced financial advisor to eliminate the possibility of forfeiting the child’s benefits. It is not always known how child support payments made to the custodial parent will affect, negatively or otherwise, government programs like SSI and Medicaid. Support of any kind should be considered to preserve government benefits. It is imperative to consider these issues during the divorce proceedings. Finally, it would be wise to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney, as special needs trusts can be established and both parents can be required to contribute to a trust within a divorce agreement, as well as be ordered to maintain life insurance benefits naming the child’s custodian or trust as the beneficiary.

Managing the care of a special needs child is a full-time job. The effects it can have on the income of the custodial parent should be considered when deciding the amount of maintenance or support. Because caring for your child with special need may extend past the age of majority, you need to have your divorce agreement tailored for the long term. Use special needs trusts in tandem with public benefits. Effectively channel support obligations and tailor parenting plans within the divorce settlement to provide fully and adequately for your special needs child.

Make the system work for you by taking a hard look at what special needs exist and how they are addressed during your divorce. The family law attorneys here at Sherer Law Offices can guide you during this difficult process and give you all the advice you need to make sure that the future of your special needs child is taken care of fully.

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Abuse of Allocated Parenting Time in The State Of Illinois

In this video, Barbara Sherer shares some of the highlights and changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act that took place in January 2016. She is particularly focusing on the abuse of allocated parenting time. For example, if you are being denied parenting time, you need to reach out to the other parent showing that you are trying to resolve the issue. She discusses how these new provisions work. Please know, this is in no way to offer specific legal advice. Every situation is different.

 

There is always a chance for circumstances to change in one form or another.  That is why it is so important to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side.  At Sherer Law Offices, our experiences attorneys will guide you through the process of modifying your maintenance agreement and make sure that you get exactly what you need and deserve.  

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What Are the Types of Maintenance/Alimony in The State of Illinois? What If I Want to Change Them?

Types of Maintenance/Alimony in The State of IllinoisIn the state of Illinois, maintenance, also known as alimony, can be awarded to a spouse either by agreement between the parties or court-ordered by a judge in the dissolution of a marriage or a legal separation.  The judge decides what type of maintenance the spouse will receive, the amount of time they will receive it, and the amount the Court deem fair and equitable after considering all of the relevant factors in the case.  

Those factors are provided for by statute and include:

  1. Property and income of each party
  2. Needs of each party
  3. Realistic present and future earning potential of each party
  4. Impairment of future earning potential of the party seeking the maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having not obtained education, training, or employment due to the marriage
  5. Any impairment of present and future earning potential of the party who would be paying maintenance
  6. The time that is necessary for the party seeking maintenance to acquire proper education, training, or employment, and whether that party can support herself/himself through employment
  7. Standard of living accustomed to during the marriage
  8. Length of marriage
  9. The age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, and the needs of each of the parties
  10. All sources of public and private income, including, without limitation, disability and retirement income
  11. Tax consequences of property division and economic circumstances of the parties
  12.  Contributions and services by the party that is seeking maintenance to the education and career training of the other spouse
  13.  Valid agreement of the parties
  14. Any other factor the court sees fit

Types of Maintenance in Illinois

There are several types of maintenance that can be awarded.  It can be ordered to be paid in installment payments, or in a one-time lump sum.

Permanent maintenance is ordered when it is not likely that a spouse will be able to secure regular employment due to a serious illness or where a spouse has foregone employment or attending school to devote their time to supporting the family in the home during a long-term marriage.  This type of maintenance is generally only awarded where the parties have been married for more than twenty (20) years.

Temporary maintenance is ordered while the parties’ case is pending, and until the final order is entered.

Rehabilitative maintenance is awarded to allow a spouse to go to school or seek employment in order to become self-sufficient over a period of time.  This type of maintenance is usually ordered to end on a specific date or set for judicial review at a later time.  The majority of maintenance awards fall under this category, particularly because Illinois recently adopted calculation-based maintenance guidelines for all Courts to follow when awarding maintenance, much like the Courts do with child support.

Keep in mind that if the Court awards maintenance under the new guidelines, maintenance is always modifiable upon a substantial change of circumstances (see below).  However, parties may agree to make maintenance non-modifiable.  Parties may also choose not to follow the formula for calculating maintenance amounts or duration of payments.

Maintenance Modification

If, at a later date, a spouse seeks to modify the maintenance agreement or Order, they would have to show a substantial change in their circumstances to warrant the current agreement to be changed.  If the order states that the agreement can go under review on a set date, the parties have an automatic right to review the terms of the order and no proof of a change in circumstances is necessary.  

If the parties agree that the maintenance cannot be modified, neither of them can change the terms of the maintenance even if there is a change in circumstances before the set end date.  Parties can even agree that certain termination factors for alimony, such as remarriage or cohabitation, will not terminate maintenance payments.  The reason that parties can do this for maintenance cases, and not child support, is because the Court’s view alimony agreements to essentially be a contract between the spouses.  However, child support is supposed to benefit the child, and thus the Court has the final determination on whether a child support award is in the best interest of the child.  Thus, Illinois public policy prohibits agreements to make child support non-modifiable.

Something that is important to know is that the parties might agree to make a maintenance award non-modifiable, but a court cannot order the maintenance be non-modifiable.  Thus, any maintenance award that is conveyed via a Court’s judgment, following either a hearing or a trial, will always be modifiable.  Further, even if maintenance was agreed to via a Settlement Agreement, alimony is still always modifiable unless the agreement expressly states that it cannot be changed.  

If maintenance is able to be modified, the court must consider the factors that were initially taken into account in the original order.  They must also consider additional factors like changes in employment status and the income of the parties, and whether these changes were made in good faith, the efforts of the spouse receiving it to become self-sufficient, the duration of maintenance payments already paid, and the property that was awarded to each spouse under the original divorce decree.  However, although the Court must consider the same original factors, the Court must still evaluate maintenance on the current laws in effect for maintenance.  The Court cannot apply the old law if the statutes have since been amended, which is what most Courts are doing now with the recent 2015 and 2016 amendments to maintenance laws in Illinois.

There is always a chance for circumstances to change in one form or another.  That is why it is so important to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side.  At Sherer Law Offices, our experiences attorneys will guide you through the process of modifying your maintenance agreement and make sure that you get exactly what you need and deserve.  

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It’s September: How Will You Pay for College Next Year?

paying for collegeToday, a college education averages about $43,000 per year for a 4-year private school. The average for a 4-year public school is $19,000 per year. Tuition and fees at both levels continue to increase every year by 3%. Many of us don’t have a lot of cash lying around, which makes us wonder how we are going to pay for college without breaking the bank.

Paying for college can be an especially difficult subject when you are divorced from your spouse. Regardless of how this topic was handled in your divorce decree, you may still want to be able to pay for college, and you need to do some serious planning in order to achieve this. The following are a few suggestions that can help you pay for college and not unreasonably affect your own finances. The sooner you start to understand the planning and application process that comes with getting ready for college, the more money you may be able to save on the cost of tuition.

Search for Scholarships

An excellent way to pay for tuition is to get your hands on some free money. This comes in the form of scholarships. You can start your scholarship search as early as your child’s junior year of high school. You can find available scholarships through their school, your church, workplace, or even extracurricular activities. Consult your child’s high school or career counselor to help you search for scholarships. Applying for scholarships can be very time consuming, so be sure to plan ahead and get them turned in on time. Some applications require an essay from the student, so be sure to add enough time for that as well.

Apply to More than One College and Compare Award Letters

Even though the college application process can be expensive, applying to more than one school gives you the flexibility to choose and compare the costs of several different schools before making our final choice.

By the end of March or April of your student’s senior year, you should get an award letter from the school you have chosen with the details of the financial aid they offer. The letter may include information about federal student loans, scholarships, and grants. After looking over your award letter, you will have a better idea of how much more money you will need to find to pay for college.

Fill Out the FAFSA

You and your student will need to complete the FAFSA after January 1st of their senior year in high school, and every college year after that. Completing the FAFSA gives you the chance to qualify for federal student aid.

When to Call Our Office

If you are a divorced parent needing to pay for college and you have a child support order, the time to call our office is right before your child begins their senior year of high school. There is no magic formula the Courts use to determine how post-minority support is paid, as this type of support for college expenses is completely discretionary for the Court. This is also why each state treats this issue differently. Some states disallow this support, while others support it by state statute.

Pursuant to Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the court is able to make provisions for educational expenses for the children of the marriage, whether or not they are of minority or minor age. This support is for any period that the child is still attending high school, even past the age of 18, as well as for college education or other professional training after high school.

Expenses for this include tuition, room and board, transportation, books, application fees, medical expenses (including insurance), as well as living expenses during school and school breaks. The court will also take into account the financial resources of both of the parents and the standard of living the child would have been accustomed to if the marriage had not ended. It is best to wait until your child has a more definitive idea of his or her choice of college before petitioning the Court for post-minority child support, as the Court will want to know more precise figures and costs for the child’s tuition, expenses, room and board, and other living expenses.

Don’t wait. The time to modify your child support order to cover college tuition is right now. Here at Sherer Law Offices, our experienced family law attorneys will submit the proper paperwork for you to get your order amended so that you will have help paying for college when the time comes.

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