Wheaton Family LawyerGetting a child support order modified after a divorce can be challenging but not impossible. There are specific legal procedures and requirements to change an existing support order successfully. An Illinois lawyer can help ensure you are going through the process correctly.

Grounds for Child Support Modification in Illinois

Either parent can file a petition to modify child support if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” The change must be significant and non-temporary.

Common significant changes that may warrant a modification include:


Shutterstock_511166536-min.jpgIf you are married to a person who displays strong signs of narcissism, likely you will find yourself in a divorce proceeding at some point in your marriage.  Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition in which is diagnosed by evaluating the nine criteria enumerated by the DSM-5, the American Psychiatry Association’s manual regarding mental disorders.  The criteria include: (1) inflated sense of self-importance; (2) preoccupation with power, brilliance, beauty or success; (3) belief they are “special” and “unique”; (4) desire to be admired excessively; (5) sense of entitlement and unreasonable expectations; (6) Interpersonally exploitative; (7) Lacks empathy; (8) Arrogant; and (9) Envious of others or believes others are envious of them.  Displaying only one of these characteristics does not necessarily make someone a narcissist, though it is not required that a person display all of these characteristics to be a narcissist either. 

When divorcing someone with symptoms of narcissism, it is important to step back and ask yourself whether this person actually fits the criteria for NPD or whether you are viewing them in that manner due to your current relationship difficulties.  You need to ask yourself whether you thought these things about this person BEFORE you underwent the breakdown in your marriage or relationship.  If not, it is possible that you could be improperly classifying them due to the inherent bias that comes along with divorce.  However, if you believe they have always displayed these patterns, and particularly, if other independent neutral parties also believe they demonstrate these behaviors, then it is likely, or at least very possible, that you are married to a narcissist. 

Narcissists can make the divorce process more difficult than it needs to be.  They can make it emotionally draining for you by gaslighting you, playing victim, and being persistent with their unreasonable expectations.  They often think they are smarter than the professionals, including psychiatrists, attorneys, and even the judge, making settlement challenging.  They also can prolong the divorce by continuing to fight battles that are effectively over.  This can often leave you feeling hopeless and financially strained. 


Untitled---2023-08-11T145805.264.jpgOften as parents, we are faced with the difficult question of how to best discipline our children. This issue becomes even more complicated when parents are navigating a divorce or other court proceedings. Today, many people view physical discipline, specifically spanking, as a form of outdated punishment and accordingly parents do not allow caretakers to use physical discipline on their children. However, there are still some parents who view spanking and other physical discipline as permissible and appropriate forms of discipline for children. In order to avoid a negative impact on parental rights during a court case, or even an indicated finding by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), it is essential that parents are advised correctly as it relates to disciplining children with corporal punishment.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act outlines the factors the court considers when determining parenting time and decision-making responsibilities for parents.  These factors, commonly known as the “best interests” factors, include whether physical violence is present as well as whether there is any abuse against the child.  The Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act defines “abused child” as “a child whose parent or immediate family member, or any person responsible for the child’s welfare, or any individual residing in the same home as the child, or a paramour of the child’s parent… inflicts excessive corporal punishment.” 325 ILCS 5/3. Unfortunately, the term “excessive” is not defined under the act which leaves room for question and doubt for parents who choose to use corporal punishment.

The law on corporal punishment is somewhat vague and requires that each scenario be decided based on its own distinct set of facts and circumstances. For example, in Illinois, while parents are not legally prohibited from spanking their children, depending on the circumstances, certain forms of corporal punishment can be considered child abuse.  Since the term “excessive” is subjective, it is ultimately up to the trier of fact, the judge, to determine whether or not a parent’s use of corporal punishment rises to the level of child abuse. In determining what factors may be considered excessive, courts have found that corporal punishment that uses items like a belt or wooden spoon, or leaves bruises and/or welts are more likely to be considered excessive than those with the hand only. However, in one case, a plaintiff was indicated by DCFS under the abuse allegation for cuts, bruises, welts, abrasions, and oral injuries where she used a wooden paddle to discipline the child resulting in bruises the size of a 50-cent piece on the left thigh, right forearm and another bruise on the child’s lower lip. Yet, the evidence established that the parent administered corporal punishment, not in a vengeful manner, but as a punishment for the child’s behavior, which she intended to be a learning moment for the child. Therefore, when taken up on appeal, the court found the harm suffered by the child was not actually considered abuse.  Even though the use of the wooden paddle resulted in two bruises to the child, because the parent used the paddle as a form of punishment, she did not use it excessively, the court did not deem it to be harmful.  Marchant v. Illinois Department of Children & Family Services, 2012 IL App (1st) 103747-U.  That said, this case may be the minority and any time an object is used for corporal punishment or an injury is inflicted on the child, there is cause for concern from the court’s perspective. 


geneva divorce lawyerWhen parties begin to negotiate the division of their marital assets and debts, the issue of how a business interest will be treated or divided arises. Owning a business can be stressful, and often times requires years of sacrifice, so making sure that your business interest is protected, is extremely important to many business owners.  Conversely, those spouses who have supported their spouse in the growth of their business, or even have directly contributed to its value (working for the business, using marital funds to purchase items for the business, etc.), feel a sense of ownership or entitlement to the business despite whose name is on the ownership paperwork.  This begs the question, how is a business interest viewed in a divorce and am I/is my spouse entitled to a monetary value for it? 

The first question that needs to be resolved in any divorce case involving a business is: When was the business started? In order for the business to be considered a marital asset subject to division, the business must have been formed during the marriage. If you are a business owner and you know you started the business before the marriage, it’s important that you retrieve any documents that prove you started the business interest prior to the marriage, as the burden of showing that the business is non-marital falls upon the business owner. Documents such as the letters of incorporation, tax returns, or a contract showing the purchase of the business, are examples of documents that can be used to establish that your business is non-marital. Having the court declare that your business is non-marital, means that your spouse won’t be entitled to a portion of the value of the business. However, the value of the non-marital business may still be relevant as if the court finds the value is substantial, then the court may consider the value of it when determining what an “equitable” division of the marital estate will be.  For example, if you have non-marital assets in the amount of $1 million, and your marital estate is $2 million, the court may award you less than 50% of the marital assets (the division could be 60-40 or otherwise disproportionate).  

If the business interest was formed during the marriage, the next question that needs to be answered is: What is the business worth? Due to the complex nature of how a business should be valued, generally, an expert that specializes in valuing businesses should be retained to determine the value of the business. These experts often have a background in forensic accounting, business valuation, and financial consulting in order to ensure that the business interest is thoroughly evaluated.  There are many methods in which a business can be valued, including market capitalization, time revenue method, earnings multiplier, discounted cash flow, book value and liquidation value.  Which method or methods of valuation are appropriate is typically determined by the business valuation expert depending on the nature of the business.  During this part of the process, the business owner will be required to provide the expert with financial statements, ledgers, and any other documents that are relevant to the business.  Business owners are also likely to be interviewed by the valuation expert via a management interview.


wheaton divorce lawyerIn 2016, the Illinois legislature attempted to create uniformity behind maintenance awards (formerly known as alimony) in dissolution of marriage proceedings by establishing a statutory formula for its calculation.  The theory behind the change to the law was that by instituting the guidelines there would be less variation from judge to judge and county to county than there had been prior to 2016.  The maintenance guideline formula is contained in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Section 504, and provides for both a guideline amount and duration for spousal support, as well as a percentage cap based upon the spouses combined incomes (the recipient shall receive no more than 40% of the combined total net income).  The current statute (revised most recently in 2019) sets support based on the net incomes of each party (compared to being based upon gross income pre-2019) and the duration is based upon a multiplying factor considering the length of the marriage through the date a petition for divorce is filed.  Specifically, the award is 33 1/3% of the payor’s net income less 25% of the payee’s net income (subject to the same cap from the 2016 version).  Although the court can deviate from these guidelines when they apply, a deviation is rare and there typically needs to be a court-approved basis for doing so; such as one party having a greater capacity to earn income than evidenced on paper or a party having substantial nonmarital assets like an inheritance.  

However, the guidelines set forth in the current statute do not apply in all circumstances.  Specifically, couples with a combined gross income in excess of $500,000 are not subject to the guidelines.  So, if one party earns $450,000 per year and the other earns $80,000 per year, or one party is a stay-at-home parent and the other earns in excess of $1,000,000 per year, the court is not required to follow the guideline formula and has discretion to establish maintenance awards and set the duration of an award, presuming the court first determines that a maintenance award is appropriate under the circumstances.  

Does that mean the court will allocate a greater or smaller percentage than what the guideline formula would have resulted in? Will they use a formula at all?  The statute states as follows: “Any non-guidelines award of maintenance shall be made after the court's consideration of all relevant factors set forth in subsection (a) of this Section.”

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