Illinois courts frequently order payments from a child support obligor over and above those mandated by the guidelines for certain additional expenses. In this article we will explain how additional expenses are handled in Illinois child support cases. These include medical expenses and expenses for special needs, educational expenses and extracurricular expenses, and child care expenses. For some foundational information on Illinois child support law, check out our article, Illinois Child Support 2019.
Illinois Child Support and Extraordinary Medical Expenses and Special Needs
Courts are permitted to deviate from the child support guidelines whenever the application of the guidelines would be inequitable or inappropriate. When courts deviate from the guidelines, they must specify in the child support order their reasoning for deviating from the guidelines. The relevant section of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that the court’s reason for deviation from the guidelines may include:
- Extraordinary and necessary medical expenditures for the child or either parent;
- Additional expenses incurred based on the child’s special medical, physical, or developmental needs; and
- Any other factor that would lead the court to find that the application of the guidelines would be inappropriate considering the child’s best interest.
The bottom line is that if the child has special needs or extraordinary medical expenses, the parties can seek a deviation from the guidelines to have the base child support amount increased. Extracurricular, educational and child care expenses are treated differently, as discussed below.
Illinois Child Support and Educational Expenses and Expenses For Extracurricular Activities
As discussed above, when dealing with extraordinary medical expenses, the court may deviate from the guidelines and order a higher amount of basic child support. However, when dealing with educational expenses and expenses associated with extracurricular activities, the court has discretion to order both parents to contribute to these expenses outside of and in addition to the basic child support obligation.
Illinois Child Support and Child Care Expenses
Child care expenses are handled similarly to educational expenses and expenses for extracurricular activities with a few additional caveats:
- Child care expenses are divided between the child support obligor and obligee based on each party’s percentage share of combined net income. This means that they are divided between the the parties in the same manner as the basic child support obligation.
- Child care expenses may be paid either to the other party or to directly to the child care provider. If they are paid directly to the other party, the amount that the obligor owes for child care expenses may be simply added to the base child support obligation.
- “Child care expenses” are defined as actual expenses reasonably necessary to enable a parent to be employed, to attend educational or vocational training programs in order to improve employment opportunities, or to search for employment. This definition includes deposits for incurring placement in a child care program, before and after school care, and camps when school is out of session.
- Courts consider any special needs the child may have in determining reasonable child care expenses.
- The amount the obligor must pay is based on actual expenses. If actual expenses vary from month to month, the payment amount may be calculated by averaging the actual expenses over a 12-month period.
- Parties may seek to modify child care expense obligations based on a substantial change in circumstances. As such, the party that incurs the expenses must notify the obligor of any changes that impact the obligation within 14 days of any such change.