When a couple divorces or otherwise separates, both parents have a legal obligation to support their minor children. Under Illinois law, a parent’s child support obligation normally terminates when a child emancipates. Emancipation occurs when a child turns 18, or 19, if the child is still attending high school. However, there are circumstances in which a parent will be required to provide his or her child with some form of financial support beyond the age of emancipation. For this reason it is critical to have the aid of a family law attorney who understands Illinois child support laws and knows how to best represent the interests of a parent with a child who may need extended financial support.
Supporting the Disabled Child
First, if a child is disabled in some way, a parent’s obligation to support that child may last beyond the age of majority. If the child’s disability is severe, each parent may have a life-long obligation to financially support the child. If it is in the best interests of the child for a parent to pay child support beyond age 18 or 19, then the court has the right to deviate from the Illinois Child Support Guidelines and order that parent to continue to pay child support. The court can take a variety of factors into account in deciding whether to order continued or increased support for a child who has reached age 18 or 19, but who is disabled. These factors may include the physical, emotional, and educational needs of the child, as well as the child’s ability or inability to be self-sufficient.
Providing College Expenses for Your Child
Next, a parent may have to continue providing financial support beyond a child’s age of emancipation if the child is attending college or another post-secondary educational institution. Illinois child support law does not automatically require a parent to contribute to his or her child’s college expenses. Instead, a court must determine the need for a parent to pay college expenses on a case-by-case basis. This means that the court may order a parent to pay for a child’s college expenses, or the court may order that a parent is not responsible at all for a child’s college expenses. Some of the factors that a court may consider in making this determination are the child’s financial needs, the child’s aptitude for education, and the parent’s ability to provide funding for the child’s college expenses.
Tailored Legal Advice
If you are facing uncertainty about a parent’s obligation to provide continuing financial support for a child, our experienced DuPage County child support lawyers can help. We can analyze the facts your situation under Illinois law and determine the appropriate course of action. Contact us today to set up an appointment to speak with one of our family law attorneys.