While good parents love their children, it can be a very freeing feeling to no longer have to pay child support for them. Most of the time, this obligation ends when the child reaches becomes a legal adult, but there are some unusual situations where the requirement may end earlier or later. Either way, it can be very helpful to understand how the law in Illinois addresses ending a child support obligation.
The Regular Standard
In most cases, Illinois child support law stipulates that support obligations end on the child’s 18th birthday as long as he or she has graduated from high school. If your order does not specify a date, you may petition the court to end payments at the time you feel is appropriate. It is, of course, the court’s decision whether or not to grant the petition. Until your obligations end, you must help provide for all reasonable and necessary emotional, physical, mental and other needs that your child may have.
Generally, you must comply with existing child support obligations unless you can present clear and convincing evidence that your situation has changed. While many aspects of a divorce decree may not be modified after the fact, child support payments may be changed if the paying parent’s situation changes fundamentally. It is plausible to modify support payments either upward or downward, depending upon the situation.
While most parents’ support obligation will end when their child turns 18, it is possible for that obligation to end either before or slightly after, depending on the facts of the situation. In Illinois, support will end if a minor child becomes emancipated (and it is then judicially recognized by the family court), which they may accomplish in several ways. The most common ways in which a minor may become legally emancipated include joining the military or getting married (with the appropriate permissions, to ensure the marriage is valid). However, there are several others, including through a court proceeding.
There are fewer support situations that extend beyond a child’s 18th birthday, but by far the most common is that in which a child has not yet completed high school. Illinois law specifies that support obligations in such a situation should continue until the child turns 19 or completes high school, whichever is earlier.
It is also possible for a version of child support to continue while the child is attending college or another post-high school educational program. These obligations, however, require a separate proceeding and are not necessarily considered a right belonging to the child. Either parent may petition the court to order the other parent to assist with the child’s educational expenses.
Seek Experienced Legal Assistance
Child support laws in Illinois can be very complex, but help is available. Contact an experienced family law attorney in St. Charles to get the guidance you need. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.