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Child Support Needs Adjustments Over Time

Posted on in Child Support

Child Support Needs Adjustments Over TimeThe amount of money needed to raise a child is neither static nor uniform. Different children have different needs, and any of those needs can change as they get older. Yet, child support payments created during a divorce only reflect the financial needs at that time. They cannot predict what the future child support needs will be or any emergency expenses in the present. Divorced parents must be willing to re-examine their child support payments to determine whether the payments are still meeting their children’s needs. They should also have an understanding of how they will pay for unusual expenses that occur.

Child Support Model

Determining the required amount that one parent must pay for child support starts with calculating the parents’ combined financial obligation to the children. The initial amount is based on the parents’ combined incomes and the number of children. Illinois has a table that uses both factors to suggest a combined monthly child support amount from both parents. Parents can add other regular child-related expenses to that monthly total, such as:

  • Health care;
  • Childcare services; and
  • Extracurricular activities.

Changing Cost

It is unrealistic to expect that a child support agreement created during divorce will still be appropriate years later. As children get older, the cost of caring for them will change in ways such as:

  • Greater expense on food and clothing;
  • Increased extracurricular and social activity;
  • Decreased or eliminated daycare expenses; 
  • Different health and medical needs; and
  • Saving for college.

Most changes will increase the child-related expenses. If the child support payments are no longer adequate, the parent with a majority of the parental responsibilities may pay an unfair share of the expenses.

Sudden Expenses

Ideally, child support calculations will include enough cushion for various, irregular expenses. However, situations occur in a child’s life that may require a large, one-time expense, such as:

  • Injuries or illnesses;
  • Parties;
  • Trips; and
  • Gifts.

Divorced parents often split these expenses, but this arrangement should be agreed upon in advance. Parents should determine whether they will split the cost evenly or in a manner similar to how child support is divided. Otherwise, they may end up fighting over their individual financial obligations.

Modifying Child Support

Divorced parents are allowed to modify their child support agreement every three years in order to better reflect their current needs. The agreement can be modified sooner if there has been a major change of circumstances for the children or parents. A DuPage County family law attorney at Calabrese Associates, PC, can help you submit a request to modify your child support agreement. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.


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