There is a gross misconception amongst the general public and newly divorced individuals that child support should only cover the necessities such as food, clothing and shelter. However, the courts award child support to ensure that children of divorce enjoy the same standard of living post-divorce as they enjoy before becoming “children of divorce.” If you and your spouse have recently parted ways, and if you want to know what child support does and does not cover, know that Illinois courts do not provide a cheat sheet or any other materials to guide you. FindLaw, however, does.
According to FindLaw, child support covers a broad range of expenses, including but not limited to education, childcare, medical care, college expenses, transportation, entertainment and extracurricular activities. It also covers a child’s most basic necessities.
Basic necessities include proper clothing, which may vary from region to region. For instance, in Illinois, a child may need a winter coat, hat, gloves and snow boots. Food and a safe, comfortable place to live also fall within the category of basic necessities. Despite popular belief, you or the recipient spouse may also use child support to pay for the typical expenses that come with maintaining a home such as mortgage or rent, electricity, internet and gas.
Typically, the courts require one parent to provide the child with healthcare. If the obligor covers this expense via employment benefits or out of his or her own pocket, the courts will reduce child support amounts to accommodate for his or her contribution. However, if your child accrues any unexpected medical costs such as braces, surgery or a hospitalization, you or the other parent may use child support to help foot the bill.
Educational fees generally cover the cost of supplies, lunch, extra-curricular activities, the cost of uniforms and private tutors. However, unless both parents agree to a private education prior to finalizing the divorce, you or the other parent should not use child support to pay for private school tuition.
The recipient parent may also use child support to cover the costs that come with maintaining a vehicle, including gas, registration, insurance and other vehicle-related fees. Your, he or she may also use support payments to pay for the basic entertainment needs of your child, travel and extra-curricular activities.
The information in this post should only be used for educational purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice.