Our Family Law Attorneys Answer Your Most Commonly Asked Questions

Though every family situation is unique, there are common threads among many family law cases. Here, our team provides answers to many of the most frequently asked questions. Find quick answers to help get you started resolving your family law issue and moving forward with your family.

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  • When Can I Change My Child Support?

    Happy childrenOnce a judgment of dissolution of marriage is entered and a child support obligation is established, those who are ordered to pay child support, and those who are entitled to receive it, often wonder when, and under what circumstances, they can change the child support obligation.  As the statute for determining the amount of child support is set to change on July 1, 2017, it is also a good time to talk about modifying the child support obligation. 

    The child support obligation is modifiable at any time upon the showing of a “substantial change in circumstances.” 

    The most common change in circumstances is a change in the salary of the person paying the child support, whether it is a raise in their salary, or they have lost their job.  If the Judge determines that, at some point after the entry of the original judgment of dissolution, there has been such a substantial change in circumstances, the child support can be modified.

    In order to change the child support obligation, one party must file a petition with the court seeking the change in the child support obligation and must provide notice of that petition to the other party.  The timing of this petition becomes important.  Illinois law provides that the child support obligation can only be modified as to installments which accrue after the petition to modify is filed, and notice is provided to the other party.  This means that if a person receiving child support learns that the paying party has received a large raise in salary, but does not file the petition to increase the support the obligation for say… one year, they have forfeited that one year of increased child support.  The sitting Judge will have no discretion to modify the child support retroactively. 

    The Judge can only modify the support as of the date the petition to modify is filed, and notice is provided to the other party.

    This rule cuts both ways.  If a party is paying child support, and loses their job or suffers a large decrease in salary, but waits for that same one-year period to file a petition to modify the child support obligation downward, the Judge will have no option in that situation either.  The established child support amount will have to be paid by the paying party for that entire year, despite the fact that they have had a greatly reduced income.

    If you are paying or receiving child support, and you believe there has been a substantial change in circumstances which can affect the payment of the support, you should talk to an experienced family law attorney right away to determine if a petition to modify is appropriate, and when it should be filed. 

    The failure to do so can have severe consequences on your financial situation.

    Call us today at 855-522-5291, fill out our contact form, or chat with us 24/7 by clicking the button on the bottom right of your screen. 

  • Is it illegal to leave my child alone in the car for a short period of time?

    A mother in Florida was arrested last week after a police officer spotted her sleeping child alone in her vehicle. The woman had left the car running and the doors unlocked while she ran a brief errand. Her reasoning did not keep her out of jail. So, what does the law in Illinois say about child safety in automobiles?

    A person who leaves a child 6 years of age or younger unattended in a motor vehicle for more than 10 minutes is in violation of the law. 

    Defining "Unattended"

    Like most laws, the details are very important. Unattended means either: 

    • Not accompanied by a person 14 years of age or older; or
    • If accompanied by a person 14 years of age or older, out of sight of that person.

    Consequences of Leaving Child Unattended In Vehicle

    A violation of this Section is a Class A misdemeanor which means up to one year in jail and up to a $2500 fine. In some cases, it may also lead to involvement of DCFS. A second violation is a Class 3 felony, meaning 2 to 5 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine. A violation that causes the death of the child is a Class 3 felony for which a person, if sentenced to prison, shall be sentenced to a term of 2 years and up to 10 years.

    Even under the safest conditions, it is never a good idea to leave children unattended in a car. The minor inconvenience of having a grumpy toddler or a tired baby is surely better than being forced to answer to a judge and DCFS about your parenting choices.

    Contact an Attorney If You Have Questions

    If you have questions regarding the matter above, please reach out to a family law attorney here at Tapella & Eberspacher.


  • I want more visitation with my daughter. Do I need an attorney to go back to court?

    In January of 2016, Illinois greatly revised the way divorce proceedings will be handled in our state.

    For starters, 'grounds' and 'waiting periods' were basically eliminated. The new law allows for only one ground: irreconcilable differences. This phrase assigns no blame to either party. Another major change to the law is that parenting plans are now mandatory in Illinois. That means that each parent will be required to submit their own plan for how the children should be parented in regards to education, religion, athletics, and other important areas. 

    Finally, custody and visitation have been redefined. As a matter of fact, those terms have been almost completely eliminated. Now you will hear attorneys and judges using the terms 'parental responsibilities' and 'parental time.' Parental responsibility functions as custody used to. In other words, it will determine who has decision making rights for the children in the important areas set forth in the parenting plan. Parental time functions as visitation used to. It determines who the child will stay with, and for what periods of time.

    Talk to a Family Law Attorney Today

    As you can see, the new Illinois Dissolution of Marriage Laws are good for children and families, but they are complicated. Your time with your children is at stake, so we believe it's a good idea to find a family law attorney you trust to walk you through this process. If you are considering a divorce or you believe that your parental time needs to be revisited, call us anytime for a free consultation at 855-522-5291.