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What Does Child Support Pay for in Illinois?Child support payments are required whenever two parents are no longer together, whether it is through divorce or separation. Unlike parental responsibilities, a parent cannot relinquish their financial obligation towards their child while the child is still a minor – and sometimes into adulthood if a parent is ordered to help pay for college. Typically, the parent with a greater share of parenting time will receive child support payments from the other parent because the court assumes that they will be the person in charge of child-related expenses. What can and should child support payments be used for?

How Child Support Should Be Spent

The total child support amount that you and your co-parent are responsible for is how much Illinois estimates it should cost to care for your children, based on the number of children you have and the standard of living you can afford on your incomes. The total is meant to cover basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. You can add other expenses to your total in order to cover healthcare, childcare, and school and extracurricular expenses. It is not a requirement that all of a child support payment be spent directly on the children because there are some expenses that are indirectly tied to the children. For instance, paying rent or a mortgage is related to the children because having children determined the size of the home you are living in.

Are There Any Restrictions on How Someone Uses Child Support?

It would go against the intention of Illinois’ child support law if a parent spent child support money on things that are unrelated to the children, such as:

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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:

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