Options for Continuing Child Support in Illinois
Specific laws concerning child support can vary by state; however, parents everywhere have a legal obligation to their children to provide child support. When an order for child support is entered by an Illinois court, it is the responsibility of the paying parent to comply with the order at the risk of enforcement activity and possible sanctions by the court.
Generally, child support payments are only required until the child has reached the age of 18 and he or she is no longer attending high school. Otherwise the order will remain in effect until the child turns 19 or graduates. In the case of special needs children, however, the obligation for support may need to extend well into adulthood.
Protecting Minors and Those With Special Needs
As written, the Illinois statutes regarding child support are intended to protect the financial well-being of minors and those unable to care for themselves. A child who is still attending high school, for example, is not usually considered to have the means to support him- or herself. If a child has not graduated high school by the time they turn 18, it is still the parent’s responsibility to provide for their child for up to another year. This is meant to ensure that the child is financially provided for while still a minor. If the child is emancipated before he or she graduates from high school, then a judge can decide whether or not to terminate child support before the child’s 18th birthday.
Support Orders for Special Needs Children
Family courts can also decide to modify child support if the child has special needs. When a child is disabled in some way, whether it is a physical, mental, or emotional disability, it is within the authority of the family court judge to decide an appropriate length of time for child support to be paid.
Children with special needs will not automatically have their child support payments extended, but if a judge decides that it is appropriate, they can order that the support payments should continue beyond his or her 18th birthday. It is also possible in such cases that the courts will order that not just one, but both, parents to contribute financial resources to ensure the well-being of the special needs child. The judge will also take into consideration the assets available to the child to support themselves when deciding the best course of action.
Determining the appropriate level of financial responsibility that parents of special needs children should have is often complex. For more information about child support and child support orders for special needs children, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. At the Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates, we are committed to helping our clients protect their rights no matter what challenges they may encounter during the legal process.