Considering All the Expenses of Raising a Child

Illinois Custody Lawyers Help Determine Support

It comes as no surprise that raising a child is expensive. In Illinois, both parents are legally required to contribute to costs. For divorced and single parents, this involves child support. In order to calculate child support orders, courts use various factors, including each parent's income, the needs of the child, and how much time the child spends with each parent.

Courts use child support guidelines to determine the support amount. Parents may agree to child support on their own and submit their agreement for court approval. Child support guidelines aim to have each parent contribute to the child's expenses so that the child can maintain the standard of living he or she would have if the parents lived together.

Child support should be enough to cover basic costs like:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Mandatory expenses
  • Discretionary expenses

Mandatory Add-On Expenses

In Illinois, a judge will take mandatory add-ons into consideration to determine the support amount. Add-ons include childcare and uninsured medical care expenses. By default, these expenses are split evenly, although a judge may require one parent to pay more than 50% if circumstances make it appropriate. Generally this occurs when one parent has a greater amount of disposable income than the other.

Costs of childcare must be in relation to employment or education for employment. If both parents work childcare will be factored into the child support order.

Discretionary Add-Ons

If the court deems it appropriate, a judge may also add on child support costs for the child's education or special needs expenses. For example, if a child needs tutoring, the non-custodial parent may have to pay for part of the expense.

Child support also may or may not include school fees, entertainment, and travel expenses, among others. Child support for travel is often included if one parent lives far away from the child.

If the child participated in extracurricular activities before a split, the noncustodial parent may also be required to pay for those activities. Music lessons, sports equipment, and even entertainment expenses can be included in a child support order.

Child Support Modification

The custodial parent does not have to give the court or the non-custodial parent a line-by-line accounting of how he or she uses the child support. This can lead to gray areas for what the child support award covers. In addition, life events such as a job loss or medical condition can make a child support order unworkable. A parent can ask the court to modify a child support order, but until it is modified a parent owes the same amount.

Parents with questions regarding child support or seeking to modify a child support should contact an experienced family law attorney in Illinois to discuss their options. Wakenight & Associates, P.C. have offices in Oak Park, Mokena, Aurora, Elmhurst, Burr Ridge, St. Charles, Northbrook, Schaumburg, and Chicago Loop to assist you.

Call our family law attorneys in:

  • Cook County: (708) 480-9651
  • DuPage, Kane, or Kendall Counties: (630) 528-0734
  • Will, Kankakee, Grundy, or South Cook Counties: (815) 458-5660