When you are ordered by the court to pay child support, you have a reasonable expectation of what the money will be used for--namely, meeting your children’s most basic needs. However, at least in Illinois, the law permits that additional expenses may be added on to the amount due if f they are shown to be in the child’s best interests.
Health insurance is by far the most common “additional expense” that supporting parents are asked to help pay, and it is often tacked on after a divorce decree because the general cost of insurance is too difficult to accurately estimate in advance. The costs of health insurance premiums can change, as well as the method for obtaining insurance. In many cases, the supporting parent will be ordered to carry his or her children on an employer-sponsored health plan. However, if the employer in question does not offer insurance, the law states that the recipient parent may cover the children, and the paying parent should reimburse him or her for a percentage of the cost.
It is important to know that while a child support order may require the paying parent to provide insurance, parents sometimes try to control the situation by refusing or feeding wrong information to the recipient. It is important for the recipient to do his or her own due diligence to ensure he or she knows his or her rights. For example, it is not uncommon for a paying parent to claim the child cannot get insurance because an enrollment period has passed. A recipient parent should know that under Illinois law, children entitled to receive insurance under a child support order do not have to wait for an enrollment period; they may begin coverage as soon as the order is finalized.
Child care and school expenses are the other common “extra expenses” added by courts to child support payments. It is arguably more common to argue and appeal these expenses than it is for health insurance since every child needs access to health care. By comparison, many parents do not think every child needs day care or private schools—which incurs tuition costs. Before the 2013 amendments to Illinois’s child support law, these expenses were seen as “deviation from the [child support] guidelines,” which only made arguments more common, because a deviation requires a finding of fact regarding why it was approved.
The law was changed in 2013, but the confusion was not completely eliminated. Rather, the law simply stated that the court has the right to order both parents to contribute to extra expenses such as day care “if determined by the court to be reasonable.” This can very easily become a slippery slope; while the court establishes that it has the final say, it does not define “reasonable,” and it is still fairly easy for a parent with bad intentions to contest the ruling for some time, leaving the children of the marriage without the care they may need.
Contact a Family Law Attorney
If you have questions regarding your obligations for child support and what may be included in your order, contact an experienced DuPage County child support attorney. Call 630-871-1002 for a free consultation at any of our three convenient office locations.