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Can I Be Ordered to Pay College Expenses as Part of My Illinois Divorce?In Illinois, child support stops once the child turns 18 or when they have graduated high school – whichever happens later. Under Illinois divorce law, the court may order a parent to help pay for a child’s college expenses after child support has ended if the child is planning to continue their education. Although child support is required to be paid even for parents who never got married, Illinois does not require college expense payments to be made. If your child is planning to go to college, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney to file a petition for college expense payments to be granted to your child since it will not automatically go into effect.

College Expenses

A support order can include several expenses related to college, such as:

  • Registration and application fees
  • Tuition
  • Room and board (on or off campus)
  • Educational fees
  • Medical and dental insurance
  • Books
  • Travel to and from school
  • Additional expenses

If the court grants college expenses to be paid, child support continues under the Illinois “college expenses” law that applies to non-minor children. 

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What Are My Options if My Ex Does Not Pay Child Support?Child support is relevant in any case involving a child whose parents are not married or in a relationship. Many times, the parent who takes care of the child a majority of the time will receive child support and use it to help cover some of the costs associated with raising a child, like clothes, food, healthcare, and schooling or extracurricular expenses. Both the courts and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) can issue orders requiring a parent to make support payments, but that does not always mean that the parent will obey. Unpaid child support can be frustrating for the parent who relies on it and can spell out serious trouble for the parent who will not pay. Fortunately, there are things you can do if your ex is not paying the child support that he or she is required to pay.

What is Failure of Support?

If a child support order is entered into by either DCFS or a judge, it has been determined that the parent has the financial resources available to pay the child support. If that parent refuses to make the support payments or does not make the payments, he or she can be considered to have failed to pay a support order. The Illinois Non-Support Punishment Act states that a person can be held in contempt of a support order if they:

  • Refuse to pay spousal maintenance
  • Refuse to pay child support and have the ability to pay such support
  • Have not paid their support obligation for longer than six months or have accrued more than $5,000 in unpaid support
  • Have fled the state to avoid paying support or owe more than $10,000
  • Have not paid the support obligation for longer than one year or owe more than $20,000 

Steps You Can Take

Child support orders are court orders, meaning your ex has a legal obligation to pay the order or they could face consequences. This also means that you have the right to pursue legal action against your spouse for not paying the support. While you can work directly with the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to take legal action against your ex, working with an attorney is faster and can produce better results.

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Can I Modify My Illinois Child Support Order?No two divorces are ever the same because no two families are ever the same. However, one constant that will always be present in divorce cases involving children is child support. In the state of Illinois, child support is an obligation that both parents have to a child. The state believes that parents have the financial responsibility of providing for their child, even if they are not a part of their child’s life in any other way. Child support is paid to the child’s main caregiver, typically the parent with the majority of parenting time, until the child graduates from high school or turns 18, whichever comes later. The amount of child support that is paid depends on a variety of factors, including the number of children who are receiving child support, the income of both parents and how much time the children are spending with each parent.

Modifying Child Support Orders

Many things in a divorce decree are set in stone and are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to change once they are finalized. One of the things that can be changed, however, is child support stipulations. In general, Illinois child support orders are able to be reviewed and changed if needed every three years. The state of Illinois understands that sometimes circumstances change between those three-year marks, which is why you are able to petition for a modification if the need for change is urgent or if there has been a “significant change in circumstances.” 

What Constitutes a “Significant Change in Circumstances?”

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that there are three reasons why a child support order can be modified: the original child support order deviated from the support guidelines, the order needs to address the child’s healthcare needs or there has been a significant change in circumstances. The most common reason a child support order is modified is that a parent claims there has been a change in circumstances since the order was entered. Examples of a significant change in circumstances include:

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How are Additional Child-Related Costs Handled in Illinois Child Support Cases?It has been touted for generations that it takes a village to raise a child and there is a reason for that adage – it is true. Raising a child takes a great deal of dedication, effort, and financial resources. There are so many things you have to pay for when it comes to raising a child. Basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care can add up quickly. Child support exists to ensure that both parents do their part to provide for their child financially when those parents are not married. But what about all of the other costs associated with raising a child? Fortunately, Illinois family law also has guidelines for how other child-related expenses are to be handled and taken care of in addition to the basic child support obligation.

Other Expenses

In Illinois, if parents are unmarried and one parent seeks to collect child support from the other, the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) will help to calculate and establish administrative orders for one or both parents to provide support to the child. This number is considered to be the “basic support obligation.” These payments are intended to provide for the child’s basic needs. As any parent knows, the costs of raising a child go beyond providing for his or her basic needs. Here are some common child-related expenses that can be added to the basic child support obligation:

  • Extracurricular activities and school expenses: Illinois recognizes the importance of outside activities and the role that they play in a child’s development. At the court’s discretion, one or both parents can be ordered to pay for any extracurricular or school expenses that are intended to supplement the child’s social, cultural, athletic or educational development.
  • Childcare expenses: In today’s world, childcare is something that most parents cannot go without – and it can get expensive. The court can order one or both parents to pay for reasonable childcare expenses directly to the childcare provider or to one parent. These costs can include daycare, before and after school care or camp when school is not in session.
  • Health care costs: A portion of the basic child support obligation is already intended to be used for ordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses for the child, but the court can also order one or both parents to pay for the cost of any expenses that are not covered by health insurance. These costs can include any unreimbursed medical, dental, orthodontic or vision expenses or prescription medication that is not covered by the insurance.

Get in Touch With a Will County Child Support Attorney

Raising a child is expensive, and Illinois recognizes that both parents have an inherent obligation to financially provide for their child. If you are not married to your child’s other parent and you are seeking to establish a child support order, you could benefit from talking to a knowledgeable Joliet, IL, child support lawyer. At The Foray Firm, we have the experience you need in a family law attorney, and we can help you make sure you are able to provide everything your child needs. Call our office today at 312-702-1293 to schedule a consultation.

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Bolingbrook child support lawyerWhen most people get a divorce, they no longer live together. This can be problematic for couples who have children, because the question of where the children will reside must be settled. These days, it is not unusual for both the mother and the father to have equal or similar parenting time. If the parenting time is not equal, the parent who has the child the majority of the time will typically be responsible for providing child support. In Illinois, a child will receive support payments until they turn 18 or 19, as long as they are still attending high school.

Basic Child Support Calculations

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has set forth specific rules for child support, including how to calculate the amount of the payments. First, each parent’s monthly net income is calculated. Then, both parents’ monthly net incomes are added together. Next, the number that corresponds with the parents’ combined monthly income is taken from the basic child support obligation table. The amount from the table is the amount that should be used by the parents each month to meet the child’s basic needs.

Who Pays What?

Now that you know how much should be paid each month for your child, you must determine how much each parent is responsible for providing. This is determined by looking at the percentages of each parents’ monthly contribution to the combined net income. If a parent’s income makes up 62 percent of the household’s net monthly income, then that parent is responsible for paying 62 percent of the basic child support obligation amount. 

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