Child Support

Child support requires court-ordered payments specifically made for the financial support of a child. In Illinois, both parents may have some degree of responsibility for a child’s financial support. Support may become an issue during the parents’ divorce or separation, and the amount of support often depends on who has custody of the child and how much each parent earns. Additional factors may include how many children are involved and how much time each parent cumulatively spends with the child. Here’s an overview of how child support works in Illinois.

Who Can File?

In Illinois, when parents do not live together anymore, a court may need to make the decision regarding child support. The court order will generally establish a set monetary amount to be paid by one parent to the other. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services may also issue an administrative order to establish child support. The state will automatically start a case for support if either parent is using public assistance benefits to pay for expenses related to care of the child. In addition, if a third party such as a grandparent has custody of the child, the third party may also file to receive financial support for raising the child.

How Does the State Calculate Child Support?

Child support falls under three categories. The first part is basic support, which covers expenses such as food, clothing, shelter, education, transportation, and other expenses required for general care of a child. The second part is medical support, which includes the cost of health and dental insurance premiums for the child’s coverage and any expenses related to medication, therapy, or other types of ongoing care. The third category is child care support, which depends on whether the child has a babysitter or needs to attend daycare.

Note: A gift purchased for a child probably does not qualify as a substitute for financial support.

How is Financial Obligation Determined?

In Illinois, the income of the non-custodial parent is the major deciding factor when the court decides how much financial support to order. Additional factors include the number of children involved and whether or not the non-custodial parent shares some of the custody rights. However, each parent’s net income is probably the deciding factor in just about every case involving child support. If the court cannot determine a parent’s net income, the court may calculate income based on the state minimum wage. Additional factors that the court may consider in calculating a non-custodial parent’s financial obligation include:

  • The financial needs of the children
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the children before the end of the marriage
  • The financial resources of the custodial parent
  • The physical and emotional condition of the children
  • The overall financial needs of the children, which might include expenses related to education and healthcare

In Illinois, either a court order or an administrative order can determine financial support that is legally binding. However, a parent may challenge either type of order. While a parent can certainly petition the court without the help of an attorney, it can be a good idea to go through the child support process with legal representation. An attorney specializing in child custody and support tends to have a better understanding of the relevant state laws and know how to challenge a court order. Conversely, an attorney can also help with enforcing a court or administrative order for child support.