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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we explain the laws regarding child support for teenage parents in Illinois. We will discuss the child support obligations of both a minor child and of grandparents when a teenager becomes a parent.  We will also explain how your child becoming a parent will impact child support obligations for the benefit of the teenage child.

For an overview of Illinois child support law, check out our article: Illinois Child Support 2019.

Child Support Obligations for Teenage Parents and Grandparents

As majority of teenage parents ultimately decide against marrying when expecting a child, they should partner with their legal guardians and a family law attorney to establish a court-ordered child support agreement. Teenage parents have most of the same rights and responsibilities as parents of any age, including a constitutional right to the care and custody of their children.

Depending on the family dynamics, teen parents in Illinois can be ordered to pay child support. In reference to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, if a minor is unable to pay child support due to limited or nonexistent income and the child’s primary caregiver (typically the child’s mother) is receiving government benefits, the legal guardians of the teenage parent (the child’s grandparents) may be required to pay the child support instead, unless the teenage parent becomes legally emancipated.

In Illinois, 16- and 17-year old children can become legally emancipated, meaning they would have the freedom to move out of their family homes, obtain jobs, sign a lease, and enter into contracts by themselves. However, both grandparents have to agree and provide a formal signature. If a teenage parent becomes legally emancipated, he or she would then be responsible for paying child support.

Until emancipation, or until the teenage parent becomes 18, the grandparents of the child are legally responsible for paying child support if the teenage mother currently receives welfare under the Welfare Reform Act. In order for minors to be eligible for the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, they must be actively enrolled in high school or a state-approved GED program and live under adult supervision. Prior to the Welfare Reform Act, grandparents were never liable for paying child support for their grandchildren, and the government did not start collecting child support from the teenage parent until he or she turned 18.

If you or someone you love is a teenage parent seeking child support options, please do not hesitate to contact us.

How Will My Child Becoming a Parent Impact My Child Support?

If you are paying child support for the benefit of a teenage child, the teenage child becoming a parent may impact your child support obligations.  Your child support amount is determined based on guidelines propounded by the Illinois Department of Health and Humans Services (IDHHS).  While the number of children involved factors into the amount of child support you will pay according to these guidelines, whether the child that the support is intended to benefit has a child of his or her own does not have an impact according to the guidelines.

However, the fact that the child is a teenage parent may cause the court to deviate from the guidelines in order to increase the amount of child support.  An Illinois court may deviate from the guidelines if the court makes a finding that following the guidelines would be inappropriate based on the best interest of the child.  In making this determination, a court will weigh four factors:

  • The financial resources and needs of the child;
  • The financial resources and needs of the parents;
  • The standard of living the child would have had the parents not divorced; and
  • The physical and emotional condition of the child and his or her educational needs.

Certainly, the fact that the child has a child of his or her own would impact the child’s needs.  However, in making the determination of whether to deviate from the guidelines, the court will look at all of the facts on a case by case basis, including whether the child has an income of his or her own, whether the grandparents can afford to pay additional child support, and how custody and child support are being handled between the parents of the grandchild.

For more information on guardianship on custody issues related to teenage parents, read our article Child Custody for Teenage Parents in Illinois | What Happens When Parents are Minors?

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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