St. Charles Extracurricular Child Expenses Attorney

Kane County Divorce Attorney Explains Expenses Not Covered by Basic Child Support

When establishing child support orders, Illinois uses the income shares method to divide a child's total expenses fairly between the parents based on each parent's share of their combined net income. A child's total expenses typically include:

  • Basic child support, which is a fixed monthly amount determined by the parents' combined income. This figure is assumed to cover the cost of housing, food, clothing, transportation, routine medical care costs and co-pays, personal care products, and routine activities such as going to the movies or buying a new toy or game.
  • Private school tuition, if the parents agree that this is appropriate.
  • Daycare or afterschool care for younger children, if necessary for the custodial parent to work outside the home.
  • Extracurricular activities. Illinois family court judges generally allow for a child to be in one athletic activity per season and one cultural activity such as music or art lessons.
  • Large medical expenses not covered by insurance, such as orthodontics or surgeries.

Of all these expenses, extracurricular activity fees and medical costs can be the most difficult to predict and plan for. Thus, they are most likely to become a point of contention between parents as children's needs change over time.

At Goostree Law Group, we know that parents want the best for their children but often disagree on what is best. This can lead to heated disputes, such as whether they can afford to pay for a child to receive elite-level sports training with daily practices and travel to competitions. Parents may also disagree on what expenses are "reasonable and necessary."

In many cases, your existing child support order will provide guidelines for resolving such disputes. If not, we can often negotiate a resolution. When necessary, we can file a petition in family court and have a judge render a decision.

Issues Around Extracurricular Activity Expenses

When an activity only costs $50 or $100 per semester, the custodial parent may be expected to pay that out of their basic child support funds. But what if your child wants weekly private violin lessons or horseback riding lessons? Who decides what activities the family will support?

The answer to the first question depends on your court-approved division of parental decision-making responsibilities. Your court orders should specify whether one parent alone, or both parents jointly, have the authority to make decisions about a child's extracurricular activities. If the deciding parent can afford to pay for the activity on their own, then there is no problem. If the cost of an activity is to be split between the parents, then some negotiation may be necessary. For example, parents may agree that their child can participate in gymnastics in a recreational program but not an elite competitive program.

At Goostree Law Group, we aim to make sure that child support orders clearly specify some boundaries around extracurricular activities and costs. This helps minimize the need to go back to court every time a child wants to try a new activity and the parents disagree on whether or not to support it.

Uninsured Medical Expenses

If you have a high-deductible health insurance plan and no vision or dental insurance, you will have more uncovered medical expenses than someone with better coverage. These expenses can be difficult to plan for, making it necessary for parents to consult with each other and agree on what they can afford.

For example, what if your co-parent thinks both of your children need braces to straighten their teeth, but you feel that you cannot afford it? Can a court order you to pay for braces for both children? In this case, a judge will consider the level of necessity as well as your ability to pay. The court may find that one child's condition is more severe and medically necessary, while the other child's condition is more cosmetic and does not need immediate treatment.

At Goostree Law Group, we strive for negotiated solutions to these types of issues, helping you avoid the time and expense of more court hearings.

Contact a St. Charles Child Support Lawyer for Children's Expenses

The attorneys of Goostree Law Group will advocate strongly for your interests in matters of divorce, family law, and criminal defense. We serve clients in the Kane County communities of St. Charles, Campton Hills, Elgin, Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora, Elburn, Kaneville, and LaFox. Contact us in our St. Charles office at 630-584-4800 for a free consultation.

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