Tag Archives: Illinois child support laws

IL divorce lawyerIn Illinois, all parents are financially responsible for their minor children. When two parents are married, it is assumed that both parents will contribute to the financial needs of their child. When those parents are not married, or they get a divorce, typically one parent must make child support payments. In most situations, the parent that pays child support only must do so until the child reaches the age of 18. It is then assumed that the child can make their own living and financially support themselves.

When a child suffers from a disability, they are sometimes unable to work and earn that income to support themselves. Illinois law recognizes this and outlines certain times when child support can be extended to support a child with a disability.

What Qualifies for Extended Child Support in Illinois?

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a disability is considered an impairment that prohibits a person from performing a major life activity. An impairment can be physical or mental and can include developmental disorders, physical handicaps, intellectual disabilities, and more. As long as the impairment is severe enough that it limits a child’s ability to perform daily tasks, support for the child may be extended.

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IL divorce lawyerThere are many complicated legal issues in any divorce that involves children. While parents may typically first think of child custody, there is also the issue of child support. Divorce is often expensive enough, but when one spouse learns that they will keep paying for the divorce through child support for years after, sometimes they take drastic steps to avoid the expense. Some may even quit their job. So, what can you do when a spouse stops working in an effort to avoid paying child support?

Obtaining a Child Support Order from the Courts

Under Illinois law, all parents are required to financially support their children while they are still minors. The only exception to this is that parents must also support a child 19 years of age if they are still in high school. Parents are obligated to provide this financial support regardless of whether they are married to the other parent or not.

When parents are divorced, this financial responsibility is typically met through child support. The non-custodial parent will make payments to the custodial parent to help with the daily expenses for the child, as well as their medical and educational costs.

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Il divorce lawyerChild support is awarded during divorce, or when no marriage occurred between two parents, based on the following criteria:

  • Child’s needs, including education, medical, food and clothing, and other necessities
  • Child’s financial resources
  • Each parent’s income
  • Each parent’s other financial resources
  • Child’s standard of living during the marriage
  • Number of children the couple has together

When a court makes a decision about child support, that support order is rarely set in stone. If the divorce occurred when the child was seven, there is a very small chance that the order will not be modified over the next decade as the child grows to 18, and then goes to college. Modification orders can be made every few years, or “upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances,” according to 750 ILCS 5 Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. A substantial change in circumstances may constitute any of the following examples:

  • The paying parent gets a large raise.
  • The custodial parent loses their job.
  • The paying parent gets in a major accident.
  • The child begins attending private school.
  • The child reaches an age when he or she no longer requires child care.
  • The custodial parent has access to significantly more financial resources.

Modifying Child Support

Generally, remarrying does not have any effect on child support modification—after all, it is only the financial obligation of each parent to pay for their child’s needs. However, in a few rare cases, courts have sided with the paying parent’s argument that, because of a new spouse’s finances, the custodial parent had increased access to this shared financial resource. It could be argued that a spouse who remarries may be able to tap into the finances of his or her new spouse, using these resources to pay for food, clothing, housing, insurance, and education for their child.

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Il family lawyerOf the 13.4 million custodial single U.S. parents, half have a legal or informal child support agreement with the other parent. Child support is used to pay for food, rent or mortgage payments, education, clothing, childcare, healthcare, transportation, and everything else that a child depends upon. As a parent’s financial situation changes, they may have a decreased or increased ability to pay child support or to financially support their child as the custodial parent. Moreover, child support may need to be modified due to a change in the child’s circumstances, such as needing cancer treatment, or no longer needing as many hours per week in childcare once they are enrolled in public school.

As children grow, parents get promotions or lose their jobs, families suffer unexpected medical emergencies, and other normal life events unfold throughout the years, a child support agreement that once made sense, may no longer be relevant. As either the custodial or paying parent, you may be able to modify the child support agreement if you can prove to the court that there have been substantial changes in circumstances for you, the other parent, or the child. A DuPage County family law attorney can help you petition the court for this much-needed modification.

Substantial Change in Circumstances

According to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, child support is eligible for review for modification every three years. Or, a review can be done when a significant change occurs in the child’s needs or the financial ability of either parent. These changes in circumstances include the following:

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There is a Project Clean Slate program offered by the State of Illinois if you are eligible, to erase past-due child support.

If you owe past due child support to the State of Illinois, Project Clean Slate may help you. Project Clean Slate is a program from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services that helps non-custodial parents reduce the amount they owe to the State while at the same time encouraging them to make their current support payments to their family.

Project Clean Slate may allow you to be forgiven past due child support payments and interest owed to the State of Illinois but will not forgive payments due to the other parent. Likewise, Project Clean Slate will not stop or reduce the child support payments that you have to make in the future.

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