Payments of child support are supposed to be used to improve the life of your child or children. But, what exactly does that mean? Is it permissible to use the money to buy things that are useful but that may not be an immediate necessity? There is some guidance in the law as to what child support should be used for, but very often, it ends up being a judgment call. Doing your research or consulting a legal professional is always a good idea.
According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, all parents in Illinois have the responsibility to support the “reasonable and necessary educational, physical, mental and emotional health needs of the child.” Parents who are allotted the majority of the parenting time following a divorce or separation fulfill this responsibility by providing a stable home and raising their children. Thus, the other parent, in most cases, is ordered to make child support payments. In theory, such payments are meant to assist with the costs of housing, clothing, and food, but obviously, every parent knows there will always be more. This is part of what gives rise to the ambiguity over child support in the first place, as it is not uncommon at all for parents to argue over what truly qualifies as a “need.”
In addition to this baseline duty, the court may order the parents to contribute to so-called “add-ons,” which are generally foreseen expenses, but the exact total may be unclear at the time of the order. For example, health care costs not covered by insurance are expenses that most parents are aware of but may be unsure of the exact dollar amount that may, in the future, be necessary. Another example is extracurricular activities, which may not be a basic need but are part and parcel of most young children’s lives. As such, they are generally held to be acceptable costs for parents to cover.
Am I Accountable?
Depending on the nature of your divorce, the issue of child support spending may become a contested issue. Currently, Illinois does not require recipient parents to provide an accounting or other proof that child support money is being spent directly for the child’s needs. If, however, there is a reason to believe that the money is not being spent appropriately and the child is suffering as a result, the court could make adjustments to the existing parenting plan. Such cases, however, are rare as it may be impossible for one parent to prove how the other parent is spending money. Without clear and convincing evidence of neglect or abuse, the court is not likely to act.
Seek Skilled Legal Assistance
Parents want the best for their children, but arguing over child support can cause significant problems for everyone in the family. Fiscal responsibility regarding support payments can make the process much easier for everyone involved. To learn more about child support orders in Illinois, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.