Illinois Revamps Child Support Calculations

New child support regulations will be implemented on July 1, 2017. Prior to this overhaul of the calculations, child support was generally determined based upon the payor’s income and number of children. For example, a person who was obligated to pay child support (generally the non-custodial parent) had to pay 20% of his or her net income for one child, and higher percentages for more children.

This model of child support calculations seems to be dated, however, as most states now use the dual income model, where both parents’ income is used together to determine what the correct amount should be. Further, non-custodial parents can get credit if they have custody of the child for over 146 days per year. Although this is generally seen as fair to parents, others worry that parents might further fight over custody if one parent is trying to reach the 146 day threshold to lower the child support payments.

Another issue that arises is whether many parents are going to try to modify their child support payments if the new calculation results in a lower payment. However, the modification of child support is still generally going to be based on whether there has been a substantial change of circumstances that would justify the court reviewing the child support calculation. This could be 10% or more difference in payment either up or down.

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What Should I Know About Retirement Planning?

Preparing for retirement can be a complex process, but fortunately lawyers can ensure that those considering retirement have legally sound, effective retirement plans. Attorneys who specialize in elder law, estate planning law or probate law may be able to assist clients with retirement preparations. These attorneys may be able to handle all the details concerning retirement and estates in order to meet the goals of those arranging for retirement.

Important Factors in Retirement Planning

Retirement preparations are about utilizing your savings and any sources of income to ensure you are able to stop working. However, it can also include preparations for the later future, such as long-term care and administering your estate. When planning for retirement, some details for which you may want to prepare include the following:

  • Retirement plan – Though lawyers cannot make investment decisions for you, they may be able to structure an IRA, 401(k) or other plan so you can reach your retirement and estate planning goals. An attorney can give you information about what you can and cannot do with a retirement plan and how you can optimize it to meet your needs.
  • Medicaid – An attorney may be able to give you information about Medicaid and decide what medical care options are best for your retirement. If Medicaid is the best option, you can receive assistance preparing all the necessary documentation for a Medicaid application.
  • Long-term care – Whether you eventually plan to move into a nursing home, arrange for a caretaker or some other form of long-term care, planning can be beneficial. You may also want to arrange for a guardian to handle your personal business and take care of your estate.
  • Living will or advanced directive – You may want to prepare for a situation in which you are unable to make medical decisions. Advanced directives can give physicians and loved ones information about how you want to handle certain situations. You can also appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • Estate planning – Readying your estate to give to beneficiaries is important. You should have a will to provide specific instructions about how to handle your estate when you pass away. Additionally, a lawyer can work with you to prepare trusts and find other ways to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries according to your wishes.

 Get Retirement Planning Assistance from an Attorney

Preparing for retirement is not easy, which is why you should not have to do it alone. An experienced lawyer who handles the legal aspects of retirement planning can make the process smoother for you.

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Can I Get a Divorce Without a ‘Get’?

An Orthodox Jewish woman has launched a social media campaign to help her obtain a ‘get,’ or religious divorce from her husband.

According to CBS New York, Rivky Stein has created a Facebook page in which she accuses her husband of emotional and physical abuse, including raping and beating her, while she was pregnant.

The news outlet reported that the couple has two children together and never formally obtained a civil marriage license, instead they used a Jewish marriage contract called a “ketubah,” which may be recognized by family courts.

Without a “get,” a woman is always considered married according to classical Jewish law. As experienced family lawyers, in cases where a woman is struggling to get a divorce, we have been able to design economic measures in religious cases that entice an obstinate husband to be more progressive.

Let our attorneys help you. We have seen many cases successfully resolved involving spouses who were reluctant to seek a divorce for a variety of reasons including religion. Our family law offices in New York or New Jersey can be reached through our online contact form.

Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. – Rockland County Divorce Attorneys

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Who Is Responsible For Student Loan Debt Following a Divorce?

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that college students and alumni are now more in debt than ever because of student loans, with students who earned bachelor’s degrees in 2012 having an outstanding loan balance of $29,400. Those with advanced degrees have even more.

This leaves some people facing an interesting question: Who is responsible for student loan debt following a divorce?

Really, it comes down to a number of factors, including income, premarital agreements and location. Typically, premarital debt is not divided. However, in New York (not in New Jersey), if the value of a license or degree is subject to Equitable Distribution, the debt will be deducted from the value of the degree.

Sponsored by Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman P.C., located in Rockland County, N.Y.

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Former Olympian Johnny Weir Involved in Bitter Divorce Battle

A picture of the constitutionFormer Olympic figure skater and color commentator Johnny Weir and his husband are involved in a tumultuous divorce battle.

According to, the couple, who have reportedly vacated their Lyndhurst, N.J. home, have filed pleadings before the court disputing ownership of assets, personal property and custody of their pets. It has also been reported that the couple owns a fair amount of high-end personal property.

You should contact our Bergen County attorneys, who will protect you in manners of child custody and visitation, division of marital assets, alimony and child support and prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, if you are thinking about divorcing your spouse.

Our family law offices in New York or New Jersey can be reached at 800-660-7843.

Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. – Bergen County divorce attorneys

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Can the creation of guardianship by a parent be challenged?

It is wise for parents to name legal and physical guardians of their minor children to serve in the event of their deaths. But the creation of a guardianship by a parent is not always controlling.

Pennsylvania law provides that all custody cases must be decided in the best interests of the child. Anything which can have an effect on the child’s physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual well-being is considered by the court in choosing a custodian or guardian.

A sole surviving parent may name a guardian to take custody of a child upon the parent’s death. But other relatives or adults significantly attached to the child later can challenge the guardianship and seek custody of the child. The court initially will presume that the parent’s choice of guardian is the best choice. However, the court will listen to testimony from challengers and will consider whether others interested in the child’s care might be better custodians. Anyone who challenges a deceased parent’s choice of guardian has a heavy burden to prove that the court should reject the parent’s choice.

Where parents are separated or divorced, and the parent with whom the child resides dies, the surviving parent has custodial rights superior to those of any guardian named by the deceased parent. A natural parent’s custody rights can’t be terminated by the death of the other parent. If the surviving natural parent is incompetent, unfit, missing or unwilling to care for the child, the court can award custody to a guardian named by the deceased parent. Additionally, if a guardian named by the deceased parent has provided essential parenting for the child, he or she may have standing to challenge a competent, interested natural parent’s rights. But the strong rights of the natural parent are very difficult to defeat.

Whether married, separated or divorced, parents should strive to cooperate to identify a mutually acceptable guardian to take custody of their minor children in the event of their deaths. Where separated or divorced parents can’t agree, each must realize that the courts will favor the surviving parent but will consider the claims of involved third parties, especially those identified as preferred custodians by the deceased parent.

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Can separated or divorced parents be required to contribute to the costs of their children’s college or private school?

In the early 1990s, several Pennsylvania courts and the Pennsylvania legislature attempted to require separated or divorced parents to contribute toward their children’s college costs. In 1995, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that since child support obligations cease when the recipient child reaches his or her 18th birthday, no extension of additional obligations for college tuition can be imposed on separated or divorced parents.

If you entered into a support or divorce settlement agreement that obliges you to contribute toward your children’s college tuition, the agreement is likely to be enforceable. Private agreements are not affected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision.

Divorced or separated parents have a duty to provide for their minor children’s private school education, as long as such an education is a “reasonable” expense. Private school for a minor child is reasonable if it is proven that the child will benefit from such an education and if private schooling is consistent with the family’s standard of living and station in life prior to the parties’ separation.

In a Pennsylvania case, a father was ordered to contribute toward private schooling for his son. After attending public school for several years, the child’s mother transferred him to a private school, assisted initially by a scholarship. When the scholarship money ran out, the mother petitioned for additional child support to defray the private school tuition.

The court found that since the son was a gifted child and was enjoying a markedly better social life in private school, he was benefiting from the change. The court rejected the father’s claims that public school placement was reasonable since the child’s grades in public school were excellent. Instead, the court focused on the social, mental, and physical benefits provided by the private school. The court also noted that a grown child of the marriage had a history of private schooling and private summer camp trips, evidencing that the family’s station in life during the marriage included private school expenses.

If you are entering into a support or divorce settlement agreement, the payment of college and/or private school tuition may be an issue for negotiation. You should not negotiate such an agreement without carefully considering the duration and amount of any tuition obligations. Other issues to resolve include identifying particular schools the child may attend, providing the payor parent with access to the child’s grades and records, specifying the child’s responsibility to pursue loans and/or scholarships, establishing tax credit entitlements, and permitting modification of the agreement in the event of the payor parent’s job loss or disability.

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Can receiving a personal injury settlement increase your child support payments?

A Pennsylvania father who worked as a laborer for a paper company was recently required to increase his child support payments when he settled a personal injury claim.

The father was initially ordered to pay $200 per month toward the support of his 10 year-old daughter. At the time the order was issued, the father was living on his workers’ compensation benefits. His work-related injury was serious, and was further complicated by the malfunction of exercise equipment he was using at a physical therapy facility. The additional injury from the exercise machine led to the need for a complete surgical replacement of his knee. Unable to return to his former employment, the father sued the physical therapy facility and recovered $300,000. The mother promptly petitioned for an increase in child support.

Pennsylvania law provides that child support obligations are mathematically calculated, based on initial considerations of the respective incomes of both parents. The father claimed that the personal injury settlement was not “income” for the purposes of calculating his support obligations. Instead, he claimed it was an asset and that only the interest he earned on the money could be considered income. The father also argued that he did not have all the money, having used some of it to buy two cars and having paid the mother money he owed her as a result of their divorce settlement.
The court divided the settlement proceeds by 12 months and included the entire proceeds paid to the father in his annual income, calculated on a monthly basis. The resultant calculation raised the father’s monthly support obligation from $200 to $1,058.

The court noted that its decision would not be any different if the father received the settlement money in one lump sum or in an annuity payable over a period of time. The court observed that while such settlements are not considered income for tax purposes, the long-standing approach of the court in support matters is to focus on actual, available income and resources, without regard to tax laws.
If you are obliged to pay child support, spousal support, or court-ordered alimony and you anticipate a personal injury settlement, you should be prepared for support or alimony modification litigation. If you are the recipient of support payments, be sure to take prompt action if the payor receives a personal injury settlement.

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Can a marital agreement be done after the wedding?

A marital agreement can be made after the wedding whenever differences arise between the parties regarding the future financial issues. The agreement must be based upon some consideration other than the marriage itself. Sometimes such an agreement is made as part of a reconciliation of the parties or following some other dispute. Such an agreement has been held to be just as enforceable as a premarital agreement.

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