In a divorce proceeding, spouses are often at odds over custody, visitation and child support for minor children. Once the court makes a decision, there is a widespread assumption that the needs of the child will be met with the ordered support, but this is often not the case. It’s virtually impossible to predict every expense that will go along with raising a child into adulthood. So, what happens when the monthly child support is not enough to cover the extras? Who pays? These questions often go unanswered during a divorce proceeding. However, with proper planning and the assistance of a capable divorce attorney, you can better prepare for the unexpected expenses that come along with single parenthood.
The general purpose of child support is to provide for the basic needs of the child. This includes shelter, food and clothing. But any parent knows that there are a variety of needs left out of this short list, such as:
- Day care expenses;
- School costs (uniforms, books, supplies, fees);
- College tuition and costs;
- Extra medical expenses (copayments, costs not covered by insurance); and
- Extracurricular activities (team fees, uniforms, equipment).
All of these things work together to make a well-rounded child, but unless they are brought to the attention of the court, one parent may end up with an inequitable portion of the expense.
For example, a Forbes magazine article discusses the payment of college tuition following divorce. In most states, child support obligations end when the child reaches the age of majority, which generally occurs between the ages of 18 and 21. In the state of Illinois, the support obligation may extend until the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever occurs first. Any parent of a college student knows firsthand that financial dependence continues for most college students.
Child Support in Illinois
According to Illinois Child Support Services, child support is generally established using a calculation of the non-custodial parent’s net income and the number of children he or she is responsible for supporting. Under the state regulations, 20 percent of the net income is granted for one dependent child. The percentage increases for each additional child. While the court usually follows these guidelines, evidence of additional expenses may lead the judge to award additional child support payments. As explained on the state’s website, the legal standard is always “the best interest of the child,” and in making any child support determination, the judge will consider the following factors:
- Financial needs of all children involved;
- Financial situation of the custodial parent;
- The standard of living that the children would have had if the parties remained married;
- The children’s physical, emotional and educational needs; and
- Financial situation of the non-custodial parent.
The best way to minimize the impact of extra expenses is negotiation during the divorce proceeding. Future concerns can be addressed by the court or in a settlement agreement. Present all existing expenses to the judge for consideration.
Contact a divorce attorney at the Law Office of Elizabeth J. Chacko, P.C. today for a consultation. Serving clients in Naperville, Wheaton, and Downers Grove, our skilled lawyers are available to assist with all of your divorce and custody needs.