Wheaton child support lawyer for college expensesIn almost every situation in which a child’s parents are separated, both parents are obligated to contribute financially to the child’s regular needs through child support. This includes expenses related to the child’s K-12 education, but it does not necessarily include expenses related to college or post-secondary education. For this reason, Illinois has special provisions in place that may require both parents to contribute to their children’s higher education even after they have reached the age of 18. As a parent, it is important to be aware of what you might be required to pay.

Calculating College Expenses in Illinois

In most cases, tuition and housing are the largest expenses associated with a college education. According to U.S. News and World Report, the average cost of tuition and fees in the 2019-2020 academic year was $10,116 for in-state students and $22,577 for out-of-state students at public schools, and $36,801 for students at private schools. The cost of room and board varies significantly depending on the college or university, but average costs in recent years come in at around $10,000 annually.

When ordering separated parents to contribute to college expenses, Illinois tries to keep costs manageable by requiring parents to pay, at most, the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board for an in-state student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For the 2020-2021 school year at the University of Illinois, tuition and fees are estimated to be between $17,000 and $22,000, and room and board is estimated at around $12,000. Actual expenses for parents could be less if their children are attending a school or educational program with lower costs.

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DuPage County child support attorneyWhile it might be easy to assume that fathers usually end up being the ones paying child support after divorce, the truth these days is much more complicated than that. Although prior views of fathers being the primary breadwinners and mothers being the primary caregivers in the family dynamic were true for many years, this has become less and less common in this day and age. A look at the latest information proves that the times are certainly changing—as are the trends in child support and spousal support.

Latest Developments in Child and Spousal Support Defy Stereotypes

In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that all alimony must be viewed as gender-neutral. This opened the door to men not always having to be the ones who are financially responsible for spousal maintenance payments after divorce. Since then, the latest developments in child support and spousal support payments alike have progressed in a way that defies stereotypes. For example:

  • The latest trends suggest that more and more women are paying some sort of support to men after divorce. Whether it is child support or spousal maintenance—or both—there has been an uptick in women paying money to their ex-husbands, as reported by many divorce attorneys over the last few years. This is representative of an overall shift in the economy, as not only are both men and women working full time despite being married and having kids, but in some cases, women are even becoming the primary breadwinners. In fact, Pew Research has found that mothers are the primary income earners in four out of 10 families in the United States.
  • As more women pay child support or spousal maintenance, more data is coming in to suggest that men are more likely to fulfill their financial obligations after divorces than women. Within the last decade, some data suggests that while about a quarter of all men failed to make their child support payments, close to 10% more women failed to make those same payments. In other words, the common stereotype of “deadbeat dads” is not always the case.

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DuPage County child support modification attorneyAfter you have gone through a divorce and are paying or receiving child support, there may come a time when you believe the amount you pay or the child receives should be adjusted. In Illinois, this may be done through a modification review process.

When Can I Have My Child Support Order Modified?

Under Illinois family law, an order for child support is eligible for modification review every three years, or when there is a significant change in either parent’s income or in the needs of the child. In the case of a three-year review, a parent will receive a letter from the agency in charge, informing them of the right to request a review.

Who Conducts the Modification Review?

Modification reviews of child support orders in Illinois are done by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). The agency is tasked with the responsibility to make sure child support orders are consistent with applicable Illinois law and changed circumstances involving all concerned.

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child-support-illinoisIn Illinois, parents no longer have “custody” of minor children. Instead, parents claim “parenting time” and “decision-making authority” for their kids. These terms replaced custody in 2016 when Illinois made drastic changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA).

Some parents believe if they share an equal amount of parenting time, the estimated child-related expenses should be the same, and that neither party should pay child support payments. However, Illinois court disagree.

Let’s explore the influential factors for determining child support payment amounts,

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child support, DuPage County family law attorneysMany unmarried and divorced parents in Illinois pay child support. The monthly payments are meant to help evenly spread the cost of raising a child when parents are unmarried or divorced. In order to determine which parent will pay child support, the court chooses one parent to be the primary guardian. This parent has the majority of the parenting time and will therefore receive any child support which is ordered. The court then considers both parent’s income, assets, and life circumstances and uses that information to calculate a fair and reasonable child support payment amount.

However, we all know that life can be unpredictable. Sometimes unexpected life events like job loss, becoming hospitalized, or incurring significant medical bills leave parents unable to make their child support payments in full and on time. If you are struggling to pay your court-ordered child support, read on to learn how to handle the situation in a way that benefits both you and your child.

Never Skip Child Support Payments

One of the most critical errors any payer parent can make is to simply stop paying their child support. Skipping a payment or paying a lesser amount than is required by the court order will make the payer parent look irresponsible and can influence the court’s decisions regarding child support and child custody in the future. Parents who do not make child support payments can have their wages garnished or tax refund intercepted. Furthermore, extensive nonpayment of court-ordered child support can be punishable by jail time. Illinois law calls this “criminal nonsupport.” Instead of missing payments, notify the court immediately upon realizing you cannot make your payments.

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