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Needs covered by child support

Parents on either side of child support situations in Illinois may wonder about the types of expenses that can be covered by the amount to be paid. The parent owing support may wonder about issues such as the other parent's accountability for how the funds will be used. The parent receiving support payments may be concerned about the duration of support payments and whether expenses such as college might be covered after a child reaches the age of majority.

A child support order is for a specified monthly amount to be paid, and this amount is typically not broken down in terms of what portion is expected to cover each type of necessity for a child. It is also important to note that the parent receiving payment is typically not required to account for the exact manner in which funds are used. It is usually presumed that the parent receiving child support payments will use those funds to address the needs of the child in question, and courts are not likely to monitor that parent's spending habits.

Support is expected to be used for basic necessities, including shelter, clothing and food. Medical and educational costs are also normally included in a parent's child support obligation as well. Needs such as transportation, child care and entertainment might be included depending upon the situation. Additional extracurricular activities might be funded with child support payments as well. A parent could be expected to assist with post-secondary education as deemed reasonable by the courts, but the child must actually attend college full-time in an undergraduate capacity for such payments to be required.

Although child support is intended to cover a variety of expenses, the income of the parents is one of the main factors affecting the amount of support to be paid. If a noncustodial parent's employment or financial situation changes, there may be a need to request a court modification to make an appropriate adjustment.

Source: Findlaw, "What Does Child Support Cover?", December 26, 2014

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