Everyone goes into marriage with the best intentions. You’ve found someone you love and with whom you want to create a life. But in reality, 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorces, and that’s something for which you should be prepared.
Divorce gets even more complicated if children are involved. Not only will you have to work out financial arrangements with your former spouse, you also need to set up a custody schedule and determine how to support your kids monetarily.
What is child support?
In short, child support is a court-ordered payment made by the noncustodial parent to a child’s primary caretaker to cover the child’s needs. It is different than spousal support or alimony.
Child support not only covers the essentials, but may also pay for medical care, education, childcare, travel, entertainment, extracurricular activities and more.
Courts seldom dictate what child support must specifically cover except in cases were the child’s needs are going unmet. In some cases, parents can renegotiate a child support arrangement if their circumstances change.
What determines how much I should pay?
Child support is determined on a case-by-case basis and there are many different factors considered when deciding the amount. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services provides a basic child support calculator on their website that uses your income and other variables to roughly estimate how much you can expect to pay.
The judge in your case will take the state’s guidelines into account and will also weigh various other considerations like the child’s standard of living.
Usually you must continue to pay child support until the child is 18 (or 19 if still in high school), or until he or she becomes emancipated through marriage, joining the military or gets a job to support himself or herself.
Sometimes a court will rule a parent must help with college expenses as well.
If you’re going through a divorce and expect to pay child support, it is a good idea to enlist an attorney who can make sure that your best interests and the best interests of your child are taken into account.