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Paying for College Post-Divorce

Posted on in Child Support

Illinois family attorneyStatistics from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) show that approximately 62 percent of Illinois high school graduates go directly to college in the following year, with that number on the rise. If your children decide to go to college, you may have an obligation, even if you are divorced, to help contribute to that fund. Being armed with the relevant information can help you understand the extent of your responsibility to contribute, if any, versus anything you may personally elect to contribute.

Illinois Law on “Non-Minor Support”

As with most aspects of family law, an Illinois court will usually only get involved in the issue of college expenses if the two divorcing parents cannot agree on the obligations (or lack thereof) of each party during their divorce itself. If a court does have to get involved, the relevant Illinois law is fairly specific about obligations in some aspects, but others are left almost entirely up to the interpreting authority. It is referred to as the law of non-minor support (even though some college freshmen may be under the age of 18 when they begin school).


What Is Unallocated Support?

Posted on in Child Support

Illinois divorce attorney

During a divorce, there are some occasions when one spouse is ordered by the court to pay both spousal maintenance and child support. However, the financial burden created by such an arrangement can be painful, especially considering the income tax treatment of child support and spousal maintenance. Illinois law permits the parties, who reach a settlement agreement, to classify both kinds of support payments in such a way as to keep more money in the hands of the family due to tax savings. 


Watching your child grow and develop is among the most sublime experiences a parent will ever know. It follows, however, that changes in growth and development also affect the child's needs in many areas, including physical, emotional, mental, and educational requirements. A child of divorced or unmarried parents may have had such needs considered during the initial establishment of a child support order, which, consequently, may require updating.

In addition to the evolving needs of the child, a support order may also need to be updated as the result of other situational changes surrounding the family. Understanding the need for modification, though, begins with a clear comprehension of how a child support order is determined in the first place.

Income and Other Factors


calculating child support, support orders, Oak Brook Family LawyerIf you are an unmarried or divorced parent, there is a strong possibility that you are now or will soon be subject to an order for child support. Illinois laws, like those in other states, may require either, and in some cases, both parents to contribute financially to the support of their children. With rare exceptions, the parent who does not maintain primary physical custody is generally required to pay support to be calculated as prescribed by law.

Child Support as a Percentage of Net Income

The basic formula used by the court for calculating child support orders takes into account two factors. The first consideration is the payor's net income, which is determined as his or her total income minus allowable deductions, such as taxes, Social Security, mandated retirement contributions, union dues, insurance premiums, previous support orders, and other appropriate expenditures. Secondly, the number of children being supported must be considered. The minimum amount of support to be paid will generally be:

  • 20 percent of the payor's net income for 1 child;
  • 28 percent for 2 children;
  • 32 percent for 3 children;
  • 40 percent for 4 children;
  • 45 percent for 5 children; and
  • 50 percent for 6 or more children.

Other Relevant Factors

The court may also take into consideration a number of other factors that can impact the needs of the child or the ability of the payor to meet the recommended obligations. These can include:


Support Orders, Missed Payments, Illinois family law attorneyIf you are a divorced parent, chances are you and your former spouse have a child support agreement in place as part of your divorce settlement. When you have a child support agreement, your spouse is required to pay you a specified amount of money every month, every week, or according to another schedule drafted by the court, until your child becomes an adult. This is to help you cover the costs that come with raising a child such as groceries, clothing, shelter, academic support, and extracurricular activities.

When a parent fails to make his or her child support payments, the child is the one who suffers. Custodial parents might find themselves stressed or feeling overwhelmed when they don't receive the financial support their former partner agreed to pay. Failing to pay child support is a violation of a court order and can carry civil and criminal penalties under the Illinois Non-Support Punishment Act. If your spouse is routinely late with child support payments or has not made a payment in months, you have the right to get the court involved to get the money your child deserves.

The First Missed Payment
Before going to the court, talk to your former spouse. He or she might be going through a difficult time financially and just need some time to catch up on the payments. The keys to successfully co-parenting your child are communication and understanding. Give your former spouse the chance to explain him or herself and see if you can work out a solution where he or she pays what he or she can at the time. If he or she is truly facing financial hardship, suggest that he or she seek a child support modification.

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