Financial Support for Non-Minor Children with Disabilities
In many states, parents are not legally required to provide child support for their disabled, non-minor children. In Illinois, however, a recent amendment to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) enabled Courts to allocate funds from the income or property of either or both parties to a divorce, for the maintenance of any adult children with mental or physical disabilities.
Under the amended law, a disabled person is an individual who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity;
- Has a record of this type of impairment; or
- Is regarded as having such an impairment.
The law does not grant a Court the authority to award support for a non-minor child who became disabled after child support has been determined or an estate has been divided. Thus, in order to make a claim for support, the child must suffer from a disability that existed at the time the Court was in the process of awarding child support or dividing assets. The only exception to this rule is when a party submits a request for educational expenses.
If a non-minor child satisfies this standard, then an application for support can be made either before or after the child has reached the age of 18 years of age.
In determining an appropriate award, Courts are directed to consider all reasonable, necessary and relevant factors, including:
- The present and future financial resources of both parties to meet their needs, such as retirements funds;
- The standard of living the non-minor child would have enjoyed had the marriage not ended in divorce;
- The financial resources of the child; and
- Any other financial resources accessible to the child.
Financial resources provided for a non-minor disabled child’s support that a Court may take into consideration when determining an award include:
- Supplemental Security Income;
- Home-based support; and
- State, federal or local benefits.
Child Support Awards
Once an award amount has been determined, the Court may order the parties to take the sums out of their joint or separate properties or incomes. The funds may also be awarded from the estate of a child’s deceased parent. In many instances, the award will be paid to one of the parents. However, Courts are also granted the discretion to order the parties to create a trust for the benefit of the non-minor child.
Due to the changing needs of those with disabilities, awards may be adjusted as circumstances dictate. Parties are permitted to submit petitions or motions to decrease, modify or terminate payment for the maintenance of a disabled adult child.
If you or a loved one are considering filing a petition for the support of a disabled non-minor child, please contact dedicated Palatine family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson to schedule a free consultation.