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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1134923861.jpg Divorced and separated parents frequently disagree about child support. The parent who is ordered to pay often feels as though the money is not being used correctly, and the receiving parent often feels as though the payments are insufficient to meet the child’s needs. Sometimes a parent will fail to pay child support because he or she feels the amount is unfair or because it seems impossible to afford it. 

But no matter the reason, Illinois takes failure to pay child support seriously. Unpaid child support places the full financial burden of raising a child on one parent and reduces the child’s standard of living through no fault of the child. If you are a parent who should be receiving child support and your child’s other parent refuses to pay, it is important to try every method possible to enforce your child support order. An experienced DuPage County child support attorney may be able to help you recover unpaid child support more quickly. 

Try Communicating First

Before taking the issue to court, try to resolve the problem with your child’s other parent. Reasonable people can sometimes explain why they missed their payments, as well as any plans to make them up. But if they fail to respond or are uncooperative, it may be time to take legal action. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_171259886.jpgFor most divorced parents, child support payments end once their youngest son or daughter turns 18. But for some parents, child support can last many years longer, if not an entire lifetime. If you are paying child support, here are three things to be aware of that could make child support last much longer. 

High School Graduation 

If a child is still in high school when he or she turns 18, child support payments will continue until the child graduates from high school and turns 19. This ensures that one parent is not left paying for all of a child’s educational and housing needs when he or she is still essentially functioning as a minor child. Many child support orders include termination dates, but circumstances can change and parents may need to request a court-ordered modification that includes a termination date. Failure to pay child support is a serious offense in Illinois and it is unwise to assume child support is ending unless you have a confirmed termination date. 

College Expenses

Illinois child support law is unique in that it can require divorced parents (but not married parents) to pay for their child’s college expenses as they earn an undergraduate degree. The cost of college is estimated using tuition and fees from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus, so even if a child attends a private or out-of-state college, parents will not have to pay more than the cost of UICU. However, parents can be made to pay for books, tuition, and living expenses. 

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naperville child support lawyerIllinois law requires both parents to financially contribute to their children’s needs, even if they are divorced. However, either parent may petition the court to amend the order if their circumstances have changed. If your financial or employment circumstances have recently changed or your child’s needs have changed, you may be able to ask the court for a child support modification.

When Parents Can Request Child Support Order Modification

Child support orders are eligible for a review and possible modification every three years. However, if you can prove to the court that you have had a drastic change in circumstances, you may be able to modify your order even sooner than that. Here are several situations that may make you eligible for a child support modification:

  • The child’s needs have substantially changed. For instance, if your child has been diagnosed with a health condition that requires extensive treatment, you may ask the court to require the other parent to help pay for the costs associated with the treatment.

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Naperville child support lawyersIn most family law cases involving children, child support is one of the most important issues that will need to be addressed. Typically, a child’s custodial parent (the parent who has the majority of the parenting time with the child) will receive child support from the other parent. However, parents may wonder how child support will be handled if they will be dividing parenting time equally. In these cases, additional calculations will usually be necessary to ensure that a child will receive the financial support they need.

Child Support and Shared Physical Care

The state of Illinois uses an “income sharing” method to calculate parents’ child support obligations. Basic child support obligations are determined using a “schedule” that defines an appropriate amount that parents should pay each month based on their combined incomes and the number of children they share. Each parent will be responsible for a percentage of this amount based on the amount they contribute toward the combined income. For example, if one parent earns 55% of the couple’s combined income, they will be responsible for paying 55% of the basic child support obligation. 

Cases where parents share equal or near-equal parenting time are known as “shared physical care,” and in these situations, additional calculations are necessary to determine each parent’s child support obligations. Rules for shared physical care apply in any situation where children spend at least 40% of the parenting time with each parent. This works out to 146 days per year in which children stay overnight at one parent’s home.

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When You Can Extend Child Support Beyond Age 18

UPDATE: In most cases, non-minor support that is paid after a child reaches the age of 18 is related to college expenses and other costs involved in the child's post-secondary education. Parents who are looking to make sure their child will have the necessary financial resources to pursue a college education will want to understand exactly what types of expenses this support will cover. 

Parents may agree on the amount they will each contribute toward their children's college expenses, or a court may order non-minor support to be paid based on the property owned by the parents or the income they earn. After determining an appropriate amount that parents should contribute, this amount will be equitably divided between the parents. 

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