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Child Support Considerations for Special Needs Children in Illinois

Posted on in Child Support

special needs, child support, Illinois Family LawyerIn Illinois, orders for child support should include a date that indicates when payments will end. The support termination date, however, cannot occur before the child is 18 years old. This rule exists to ensure that the parents financially provide for the minor who may or may not have the means to provide for himself. If a child has special needs and is unable to care for himself, the judge has the authority to extend the support date past the age of 18 and into adulthood. Taking into account the financial resources of the parents and the adult child, the judge may also order that one or both of the parents use their income or property to support the adult child. This petition can be made before or after the child turns 18.

If the divorcing parties cannot come to a consensus and the paying partner cannot be trusted to make payments without a court order, the court may award alimony or child support in the form of cash. Parents who are behind on payments by the termination date are still responsible for any unpaid support amount after the termination date.

Social Security and Alimony Payment Challenges

One potential challenge regarding support for special needs children concerns Social Security Income. If the primary parent of the child receives alimony, the child under 18 may not be eligible for Social Security because the parent’s alimony can be considered a monthly income. When the child reaches 18, the parent’s alimony does not affect Social Security Income.

An alternative to paying alimony without affecting one’s benefits eligibility is to dictate that the non-custodial parent pays for a non-cash allowance (childcare, care attendant, or special services). Another alternative is to take into account the family’s support system; the settlement agreement could include payments to other relatives who could care for the child with special needs.

Planning for the Future is Critical

Special needs children will face unique challenges as adults and, as such, advance planning is crucial for ensuring their well-being. Not all family law attorneys will be familiar with the nuances of support planning for a special needs child. At the Pesce Law Group, P.C. we have experience working with families with special needs issues and partnering with doctors and mental health professionals, if necessary, to safeguard the best interests of the children and achieve an effective child support order. Please contact a Naperville child support attorney today at 630-352-2240 for more information.

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