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Do I Have to Pay for That? Child Support in Illinois.

In Illinois, child support is calculated based on both parent’s income. Once an amount is determined, the non-custodial parent must pay that amount to the custodial parent on an arranged basis. The court orders child support and has the ability to deduct the amount from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck.  This method is usually preferred as the parents do not have to communicate.  Child support payments are paid into a disbursement center and then sent to the custodial parent.

Child support is not tax deductible for the non-custodial parent, and the primary custodial parent does not pay tax on the child support they receive.

It is important to realize that the custodial parent does not have to provide an accounting of how the child support is spent.  The non-custodial parent is not entitled to a list of items the money is spent on each payment period.  Essentially, the custodial parent can do what they wish with the money received.  If a non-custodial parent feels as if they are being taken advantage of, the non-custodial parent can file a motion to modify the support.

Ideally, Child Support Covers the Essentials…

When thinking of child support, the first things to come to mind are food, clothing, and shelter.  However, there is a large misconception on the costs of these very few things, to which there are many more necessary items that children need.  Just take a moment and think about how much it costs for you to eat each month.  On average, it costs around $250 to feed a child a month.  This is in addition to clothing costs and the average cost of rent. Of course, you would need to account for house hold utilities and travel.  Most other costs, such as school related and health care expenses are split between both parents.  These costs are generally divided evenly where the parents have come to an agreement. 

It is also important to consider the standard of living at each of the parent’s homes, and provide for comparable environments for your child.  Parents need to take into consideration what the child is accustom to when spending time with either parent and try to make the experiences as similar as possible for easy transitions.  In doing this, parents may agree to share expenditure information so that costs may be divided and reimbursed if need be.  This can be done by way of tracking costs, keeping receipts or simply sharing each time an expenditure arises.   While there are many methods that may be used, it is fairly easy to say that tracking costs allows for better budgeting and provides proof in financial disputes.  

Daycare Expenses

Day care, much like school related expenses, is shared between both parents.  This cost is not calculated in child support.  Day care can cost as much a year’s worth of college tuition.  It is crippling for many.  It is favorable that both parents are working, as it is in the best interest of the child.  Therefore, neither parent can request that the court order a parent to stay at home with the child.  Unless someone volunteers to be a stay at home parent or a grandparent volunteers to stay with the children, both parents will carry the cost for daycare.  Parents are expected to communicate and choose a day care facility that fits their needs and is financially feasible. If at any time either parent has difficulty paying day care costs, that parent can ask the court to order that the child go to a less expensive day care.  That petitioning parent must locate the new day care.

College

Many believe that child support ends when the child turns 18 or on the day of child’s high school graduation.  However, a parent’s financial obligation continues if your child goes to college.  Many parents try to plan ahead and save for their child’s college education by way of 529 saving plans and other saving measures.  While it is impossible to know if your child will go to college, it is smart to plan ahead if possible.  Saving plans used by either parent will suffice as their contribution towards college costs.

If you have questions about child support in Illinois, contact a Chicago family law attorney  to speak with an experienced Illinois divorce lawyer.