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Oak Brook child support attorneyWhen you are a parent who is unmarried or divorced, it can be difficult or nearly impossible to make ends meet without financial assistance from your child’s other parent. Child support is a crucial resource for parents in Illinois and across the United States. Typically, child support is established when a child is born to unmarried parents or when married parents get divorced. However, the time between a parent seeking child support and that parent actually receiving support can be weeks, months, or even years. Fortunately, there are some cases in which child support is awarded retroactively.

Receiving Back Child Support in Illinois

There are many different situations in which a parent may be awarded retroactive child support. This means that they receive support for the time period before the establishment of the child support order. To receive child support in Illinois, an unmarried parent requesting support will need to establish the paternity of the child and file a petition for support. Establishing paternity may require the parent to file an administrative order via the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services or secure an Order of Paternity with the court. An unmarried parent may be entitled to child support dating back to when the child’s father was first served with paternity paperwork. Married parents may be able to receive back child support from the date they filed a motion requesting child support.

What Do Illinois Courts Consider When Deciding to Award Retroactive Child Support?

Illinois courts have broad discretion regarding retroactive child support. When deciding whether to award retroactive support and the amount of support that should be paid, Illinois courts will consider:

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Naperville family attorneyTypically, child support is paid by the obligor parent until the child reaches 18 years old and graduates high school. If the child attends college, child support may continue during his or her undergraduate education. It is usually assumed that once a child reaches adulthood, he or she will move out of his or her parent’s home and become financially self-supporting. However, a child with disabilities may not be able to reach this level of independence at any age. If you have a child with a mental or physical disability, you may be entitled to receive child support payments even after he or she is no longer a minor.  

Defining Disability For the Purposes of Non-Minor Child Support

The costs of raising a child – especially a child with special needs – can be overwhelming. If your child suffers from a medical condition that reduces his or her independence, you may worry about how you will cover these costs without assistance from your child’s other parent. Fortunately, Illinois courts may continue a child support order past the typical termination date if the child has a disability. Illinois defines a disability as a mental, psychological, or physical impairment that considerably limits a child’s ability to make sound decisions and care for himself or herself. Developmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder as well as physical handicaps may qualify a child for continuing support.  To receive non-minor child support, the disability must have been diagnosed while the child was eligible for traditional child support.

Petitioning the Court for Continued Child Support

In order to ensure that you will continue receiving child support once your child turns 18 and/or graduates high school, you will need to file a petition for non-minor support with the court. When deciding whether or not to grant your request, the court will consider:

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Naperville child support attorneysIf you are going through a divorce, the court will usually factor health care costs into the child support order they issue. This could significantly alter the amount of regular child support payments depending on what your and your spouse’s insurance offers. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5) outlines exactly how a court will calculate a child support order, so it is important to learn more about how this legislation could affect your divorce order by discussing your case with a divorce attorney. 

Child Support and Providing for Health Care Costs in Illinois

Basic child support requirements already should include ordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses. Also, the court may decide to require one or both spouses to ensure that their health insurance coverage covers their child, that they purchase health/dental/or vision policies to cover their child, or that they use alternative solutions to cover their child’s present and future medical needs. While child support orders typically require one spouse to make regular payments to help the other spouse provide for their child, the court may also encourage one or both spouses to pitch in to meet any medical expenses that are not covered by insurance, like office or pharmacy copays.

In some cases, the divorcing spouses may not have the financial resources and opportunities to provide private health care coverage for their child. If this is the case, a court may require that one or both parents purchase insurance coverage as soon as the cost is reasonable given the spouses’ circumstances, or the court can order the ex-spouses to file for public health care coverage for their child and split any remaining costs. 

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DuPage County family law attorneysFor many individuals, it takes a divorce to highlight just how financially dependent a person may be on his or her spouse. This, of course, may be all the more true if you are also trying to raise children. It is for exactly such reasons that the divorce laws in Illinois include provisions for spousal maintenance and child support. These orders are issued, when appropriate, by the court to distribute the financial burden more equitably between you and your ex-spouse. But, what would happen if your ex-spouse was no longer around to provide support for you or your children? Would you be able to get by? If the answer is no, you may want to speak with family law attorney about including life insurance requirements in your divorce agreement.

Why Life Insurance?

A life insurance policy is designed to pay financial benefits to the named beneficiaries of a insured individual upon the insured person’s death. These funds are often used to cover funeral costs, pay down debts, or to simply maintain a similar lifestyle. Married individuals will commonly name their spouse as the primary beneficiary to help provide a level of security in the event of their death.

Reliance on Your Ex-Spouse

It may not be easy to admit, but if you are seeking spousal maintenance or child support, you are still financially dependent, to at least a certain extent, on your former partner. Your reliance may not be as strong as it once was during your marriage, but you likely count on his or her help to provide for your most basic needs and those of your children. If he or she were to die suddenly, you could face tremendous difficulty as a result of the support payment ending.

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DuPage County child support enforcement attorneysIf you are a single parent entitled to child support, you have probably come to rely heavily on these funds. Whether it is child care, groceries, educational or extracurricular activities, or other costs, raising a child is expensive. When a parent does not receive his or her child support, it can be hard to make ends meet. Furthermore, child support orders are legally binding court orders. A parent cannot simply choose to stop payments. If a parent fails to meet his or her child support obligation, he or she can be charged with contempt of court and face other serious consequences.

Enforcing a Child Support Order

In order for a child support arrangement to be enforceable, it must be officially ordered by the court. If you and your child’s other parent had an informal child support arrangement, you will need to take the steps to establish a formal child support order. If the legal paternity of your child has not been established and you want to collect child support from your child’s father, you will need to establish paternity before you can collect child support.

Court-mandated child support payments are not optional. If your child’s other parent is not paying court-ordered support, you have two basic options. You may contact the Illinois Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) and initiate an enforcement action through this agency or you may enforce the child support order through the Illinois court system. The latter option may help you receive a favorable outcome more quickly than going through the DCSS, but the option you choose will be based on your unique situation and needs.

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