If 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.
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:
- The current and expected financial resources of each parent, including retirement provisions;
- The standard of living the child may have expected if the parents had remained or been married;
- The financial resources of the child; and
- The child’s eligibility for public or private aid including Social Security benefits and home-based support programs.
When support is determined to be appropriate, the court may order payments to be made to one of the parents or directed to a trust set up for the care of the disabled child.
The law also permits the court to order non-minor support for a disabled child from a deceased parent. If the parent has died, the court may award a portion of the parent’s estate to the child. Of course, such a determination is likely to result in a one-time award, rather than ongoing support payments. However, an award from the deceased parent’s estate must be equitable, relative to the financial situation of all other involved parties.
Proceedings for non-minor support of a disabled child can be incredibly complex and often require the assistance of financial, medical, and behavioral health professionals. To learn more about your potential support responsibilities, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a free, confidential consultation at the St. Charles office of Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., today.