Illinois Child Support and Non-Minor Educational Expenses Explained

Illinois Child Support: Is a Spouse's Income a Parental Resource for Non-Minor Educational Expenses?

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
November 1, 2019

In this article we will answer reader questions about Illinois child support and explain non-minor educational expenses as well as whether a new spouse's income is considered a "parental resource" when calculating child support. For an overview of Illinois child support law, check out our article: Illinois Child Support 2019.

As explained in our prior article, effective July 1, 2017 child support in Illinois is determined using an “income shares” model.  This is a substantial change from the way child support was previously calculated in Illinois. Previously, the amount of child support to be paid by the obligee (person required to pay child support) was determined based on a fixed percentage of the obligee parent’s net income and the number of children to be provided for.  

A reader commented on our article asking to expand on non-minor educational expenses and parental resources of the new child support law and to elaborate on if the non-custodial’s new spouse’s income considered a potential resource and if it can be requested. 

Illinois Child Support and Non-Minor Educational Expenses Explained

Child support is always required in Illinois as long as the child is under the age of 18 or still in high school. If a child graduates highschool prior to turning 18, this may cause child support to terminate. However, courts may award child support for post-highschool educational expenses.

Illinois courts weigh several factors when determining whether to award child support for non-minor educational expenses. One of the key factors is the resources of the parents.

For a more complete discussion of how courts determine whether to award child support for non-minor educational expenses, please see our article, Illinois Child Support & College Expenses.

Does a New Spouse's Income Qualify As a Parental Resource For the Purpose of Illinois Child Support?

With the understanding that parental resources are a key factor in determining whether to award child support for non-minor educational expenses, the next question is whether income from one of the parties' new spouses counts as a parental resource. The short answer is that a spouse's income is not a parental resource for the purpose of child support.

The “parental resources” the courts will now be focusing on will be determined largely based upon each party’s respective income. Income is defined as income from all sources minus statutory deductions.  

Courts typically will not consider a new spouse's income as a potential resource, because child support calculations only take into account the incomes of the biological parents of the child. A spouse of either the obligor or obligee has no legal obligation to spend his or her income for the care of the obligor and obligee's child. The income of the new spouse is therefore irrelevant to any support calculations.

So the bottom line is that the argument that the obligor's spouse has significant income, and that therefore the obligor should be required to pay for post-highschool education will not be successful. Similarly, if the obligee marries an individual with significant income, this will not negatively impact the obligee's chances of receiving child support for educational expenses.


3/11/2017 06:07:41 pm

Thank you for taking the time to answer this question Sean. It sounds like the "income shares" portion could still create some uncertainty until July. Hopefully clarification will come as the new change rolls out. Thank you again!!


3/19/2017 02:04:38 pm

Hello again Kevin and Sean.I have continued to research and have found that there have been a few more cases involving the educational expenses question. Here are 2 cases besides Drysch...... I have not seen any wording in the July 2017 rule changes that includes "biological parent" for support or educational non-minor expenses..... could these following cases still be relevant and cited after July 1, 2017? “To the extent that the current spouse of the payee has income or assets which are or can be used to contribute to the living expenses of the payee, his or her income and assets should be considered by the court in making its determination regarding the amount the payee is able to contribute to the child’s education. Certainly, we are not saying that the new spouse of a parent is obligated to pay for the child’s education, but only that to the extent the new spouse contributes to the expenses which would otherwise be paid by the parent, the new spouse’s income and assets are relevant.” Street, 325 Ill. App. 3d at 114. Cianchetti, 351 Ill. App. 3d at 835.Citing Street, the court declared that “[a]lthough [the mother’s] new husband is not obligatedto pay for her children’s tuition, and his income should not be used to determine her ability topay tuition, it is properly used to examine the extent to which her income can be freedthrough reliance on her husband for support.” Cianchetti, 351 Ill. App. 3d at 835 (citingStreet, 325 Ill. App. 3d at 114).


3/22/2017 06:44:59 pm

Thank you for your continued interest in our blog. You seem to be very diligent in your research on this matter. 

‍As a general rule any case that is on point and relevant to support an argument can be cited. However, it is up to the Court's discretion as to the weight they will put on the precedent or persuasiveness of any particular case cited. 

‍Unfortunately, I cannot give you an absolute answer to your question because each case is very fact specific and you have provided no additional facts concerning your case that may have bearing on any decision a reviewing court may make. I cannot give a fully informed position regarding a case's application and relevance to a particular set of facts without knowing what those facts are. Additional there are many other factors to consider such as the county the case is in, the history of the case, the tendencies /beliefs/potential biases of the Judge hearing the matter. 

‍You seem to have a very specific argument in mind and the cases you have cited may be on point with your case and argument or they may not. At this time I do not have enough information to fully make that determination. 

However, I would be happy to discuss this matter with you in person and learn more about your legal position and what you are seeking to accomplish. Please call our office to set up a time for me to meet with you in person so we can discuss the particular facts of your case in more detail.

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