Your first marriage ended in divorce, but you and your ex used divorce mediation to set up a workable parenting plan for your minor children. Now your second marriage is ending, and your current spouse wants you to rework that initial parenting plan in favor of your current family.
The good news is that you aren’t required to do this as part of your divorce planning. Here’s why.
“FIRST FAMILES FIRST” DOCTRINE
Under Illinois divorce law, and indeed in most states, support owed to a child from a first marriage/relationship does not have to be adjusted in order for a parent to provide support to a child/children from a second relationship.
From the court’s perspective, the second marriage is undertaken with the full knowledge of the existing support obligation and parties must accept that obligation as is. Thus the court will first deduct the support obligation owed to the children of the first marriage before calculating the amount owed to the second family.
Here’s a “real life” example. A man makes $100,000 and pays 20 percent in child support for his first marriage. He marries again, has a second child, and divorces again. The child of the second marriage is also awarded 20 percent, but it is of the remaining income of $80,000, meaning that child would get $16,000 (20 percent of $80,000). The first child’s support will not be affected in any way.
You worked hard in your first divorce to allocate parenting time and decision making. Perhaps the second divorce is causing an increase in stress within your home and for your children from the first marriage.
Generally, the court will not modify the first parenting plan without a compelling reason. These include mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, criminal activity, a troubling environment—in short, anything that can be clearly shown to have a negative effect on a child’s health, safety, and welfare.
Modification of an Allocation Judgment or Parenting Plan, however, will also be considered if both parents agree to the new plan parameters and for other situational factors, all of which consider the child’s best interests. Any modifications should be written, signed by both parents, and entered with the Court.
Ending any marriage is difficult, but your second divorce does not have to affect your first parenting plan or allocation judgment, unless you or the court feel it’s in the best interests of the children.
ABOUT ERIN BIRT
Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.
She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.
Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.