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Naperville family law attorneysIllinois law requires parents to financially contribute to their child’s upbringing. In the case of unmarried or divorced parents, this most often involves child support payments. Typically, child support payments are terminated when a child reaches eighteen years of age and is therefore legally an adult. The now-adult child is expected to start taking responsibility for himself or herself and make his or her own money. However, if the child suffers from a disability, he or she may be unable to do so. In situations like these, child support payments may be extended past the typical time period.

Disabilities That Qualify for Extended Child Support

Both mental and physical disabilities can qualify a person for child support after he is an adult. Section 513.5 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5) states that when an individual’s mental or physical impairment “substantially limits a major life activity,” he or she is considered to be disabled. These impairments may include psychiatric conditions, developmental disorders, intellectual disabilities, and physical handicaps. Any impairment that directly affects the child’s ability to perform daily living tasks may qualify the child for extended child support.

Factors Considered by Illinois Courts

In order for a child to remain eligible for child support as an adult, the disability must have been diagnosed by a medical professional or otherwise discovered while the child was eligible for regular child support. The court may determine that one or both parents are obligated to continue financially supporting the disabled adult. Decisions about child support for a disabled adult are made with consideration to:

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Naperville family law attorneyIf you are a divorced, separated, or unmarried parent, you most likely recognize the importance of financially supporting your child. No matter what drove you and the other parent apart—if you were ever really together—you have a responsibility to provide for the child. While the state cannot legislate your moral obligations in participating in your child’s life, it can enforce your financial obligations. In most cases, your child support requirements will end once your child turns 18 and graduates high school, but if your child suffers from a disability, your situation could be dramatically different.

Defining Disabled

According to Illinois law, a disabled person is one whose physical or mental impairment “substantially limits a major life activity.” Such impairments may include physical handicaps, psychiatric conditions, developmental disorders such as autism and Asperger’s syndrome, and any other condition that could have a direct impact on the individual’s ability to care for himself or herself.

Considerations of the Court

In order for a petition for non-minor support to be considered, the disability must have been diagnosed or found to have arisen while the disabled person was eligible for “regular” child support or support for educational expenses. Either or both parents may be required to contribute toward the disabled adult child’s support based upon the court’s consideration of:

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DuPage County child support lawyersIn most cases, a parent’s child support obligations end when the child turns 18 years of age. However, there are some occasions where a parent may be required to contribute to their child’s expenses and upkeep even after the child reaches majority. The most common occasion is when college comes into question, but others exist.

What Should Be Covered?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act discusses the situations in which non-minor child support may be awarded by the court during a divorce proceeding or at a later date. The court may order support for an adult child who is mentally or physically disabled and will require an elevated level of care for the foreseeable future or for the educational expenses for a minor or non-minor child. While the care of a disabled child is a fairly straightforward endeavor, the question of what constitutes “educational expenses” and who should pay them can get quite complex.

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