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What Does Child Support Pay For in an Illinois Family Law Case?

Posted on in Child Support

Barrington child support lawyerA non-custodial parent who is ordered by a judge to pay child support may experience feelings of contempt and hostility toward his or her former partner. These strong emotions do not necessarily occur because a parent does not want to provide financially for his or her children, but they often result from a loss of control over one’s finances. With no way of knowing what those child support payments are being used for, a parent may worry about whether they are actually going toward the daily living expenses of the child or are being used to pay for other costs incurred by the custodial parent. A non-custodial may also wonder why he or she may be required to pay additional expenses as part of his or her child support obligations. So, what does child support actually pay for?

Basic Child Support Obligations

In Illinois, all parents have a legal obligation to provide for their children financially until the time a child turns 18. This support is meant to provide for the basic living expenses of the child, including food, clothing, housing and other basic needs. Essentially, child support payments are meant to provide for the child’s needs in a way that replicates a two-parent household. However, in addition to this basic support obligation, non-custodial parents may also be required to provide additional financial support that meets children’s other needs.

Additional Child Support Obligations

While a basic child support obligation is meant to provide for a child’s daily living expenses, Illinois law outlines four categories for additional child support above and beyond the basic obligation:

  • Extracurricular activities: A parent may be required to contribute toward costs related to activities that enhance the child’s educational, athletic, cultural or social development.
  • School expenses: Costs for books, school supplies, or other expenses related to educational activities that enhance the child’s development may be divided between the parents.
  • Child care: Expenses for daycare, a nanny, or other forms of child care necessary while parents are working may be shared by the parents.
  • Medical expenses: Both parents are responsible for contributing to the health needs of the child, including maintaining medical insurance, paying co-pays and any other necessary costs.

How to Determine Where Payments Are Going

Unfortunately, there is often no real way for a non-custodial parent to determine whether child support payments are being used for their intended purpose. In many cases, a custodial parent will place child support payments in the same bank account as income or benefits earned, and combining these funds makes it impossible to determine which funds paid for which expenses.

However, proving that child support payments are being used incorrectly is not always impossible. If an expense arises that child support should have been able to pay for, and the custodial parent claims they could not afford it, this could prove that child support payments are not being used correctly. Similarly, if it is evident that the children’s needs regarding food, shelter or clothing are not being met, even though child support payments have been made, this may be a sign that the custodial parent is misusing the funds intended to support the children.

Need Help With a Child Support Order? Call a Mount Prospect Family Law Attorney

If you have been ordered to pay child support, and you suspect the payments you make are not actually being used to meet your children’s needs, experienced Palatine child support lawyer Nicholas W. Richardson can help you determine your legal options. If necessary, he can work with you to modify child support or child custody orders in a way that protects your children’s best interests. Call our office today at 847.873.6741 to schedule your free consultation.


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