Category Archives: Child Support

Disability Dependent Benefits Can Contribute to Child SupportBecoming permanently disabled does not eliminate your child support obligation after a divorce, but it can change what you pay. People who live off of disability benefits typically have less income than before, which allows them to modify their child support payments. If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, your children may be eligible to receive SSDI dependent benefits as well. In shared parenting situations, these payments would go directly towards child support.

What Are SSDI Dependent Benefits?

The purpose of SSDI dependent benefits is to help a disabled parent support his or her children who rely on the parent’s income. A child can qualify for SSDI dependent benefits if he or she is:

  • Younger than 18 and unmarried;
  • Younger than 19 and enrolled full-time in a secondary school; or
  • Disabled and the disability started before age 22.

Each child is eligible to receive payments that are worth as much as 50 percent of the disabled parent’s SSDI benefits. However, the total value of the disabled parent’s benefits and the children’s benefits cannot exceed 180 percent of the disabled parent’s original benefits. Thus, if you have two dependent children, they cannot both receive payments that are worth 50 percent of your benefits.

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Illinois Can Suspend Your Driver's License for Missed Child SupportThe continued payment of child support is a serious matter in Illinois. Your co-parent can take you to a family court to enforce your child support agreement if you miss payments. A court that finds you in contempt of your child support agreement can use wage garnishment or the seizure of other property or funds in order to repay the money that you owe. As further punishment for your lack of payment, Illinois can suspend your driver’s license until you pay the child support in full.

Suspension Policy

Both Illinois courts and the Department of Child and Family Services have the authority to request your driver’s license suspension if you have not made any child support payments for at least 90 days. In either case, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office receives the request and will notify you of your pending suspension, to start in 60 days. At that point, you have two options:

  • You can repay your child support in full, which will cancel the suspension; or
  • You can attend a Secretary of State’s hearing on your suspension.

The hearing will determine whether to allow your driver’s license to be suspended and whether to give you limited driving privileges. The suspension can last indefinitely until you have fulfilled your child support obligation. To reinstate your driving privileges, you will need another hearing with the Secretary of State’s office to prove that you are in good standing with your child support payments.

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Who Will Control Your Child's College Fund After Divorce?Divorce can disrupt the financial plans from your marriage, including savings you have accumulated for your child’s college expenses. If you have been making regular contributions to a college fund, you may worry about how you will continue to afford them on your individual income while also supporting yourself and your child. You should discuss your college savings plan with your spouse during your divorce negotiations, including who will control any existing savings and how to ensure that the money goes towards your child.

Types of Plans

Savings accounts from your marriage, such as a retirement plan, are considered marital assets because they are funded with marital income. Even if you keep control of the entire account after your divorce, you may need to compensate your spouse for half of the value of the account. A court may exclude your college savings account from your marital property if it classifies the account as a fund set aside for your children. The best way to do this is by creating a plan that is meant for college savings, such as a:

  • 529 savings plan;
  • Custodial 529;
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account; or
  • Trust in your child’s name.

Plan Control

If you created the college savings account before your divorce, you will need to decide which parent will be in charge of the account moving forward. Usually, one parent assumes total control of the account, though you can split the account and each receive half of its value. You can include conditions in your divorce agreement stating that:

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Which Circumstances Allow You to Modify Child Support Payments?Due to the overhaul of Illinois’ child support law a few years ago, some divorced or separated parents are working under a drastically different child support system than others:

  • For child support agreements created before July 1, 2017, the non-resident parent pays a percentage of his or her income, based on the number of children; and
  • For child support agreements created since July 1, 2017, the total child support obligation is determined by the parents’ combined incomes, and the non-resident parent pays a percentage of the obligation that is proportionate to his or her share of the combined incomes.

The new child support model would potentially reduce the payments of a parent who was using the previous child support model. However, the existence of the new law is not enough reason to allow a modification of a child support agreement. 

Recent Case

A parent needs to prove a significant change of circumstances to immediately modify a child support agreement, which is usually a change in income or expenses for either parent. In the recent case of In re Marriage of Salvatore, a divorced father thought he had enough of a change of circumstances to allow him to reduce his child support payments. The parents had completed their divorce in 2015, with the father paying $8,100 per month for child support. The mother was unemployed at the time of divorce but had since been employed as an office worker and nurse.

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What Happens to Child Support After Remarriage?Getting remarried is an exciting event because it signifies a resolution to your divorce in many ways. You have proven that you can find a new relationship. If you were receiving spousal maintenance, you can break that financial tie to your former spouse. However, your obligation to provide child support will remain, regardless of whether either of you gets remarried. There are limited circumstances in which the child support payments can be modified after one parent gets remarried.

Principles of Child Support

Divorced parents pay child support because they share a financial obligation to care for their children. That obligation will always remain with the two legal parents of the children and not with any new spouses. Your new spouse cannot become the legal parent of your children unless your co-parent relinquishes his or her parental rights and your new spouse adopts your children. Thus, courts have traditionally not considered the income of a new spouse when determining child support payments. However, an Illinois court ruling in 2014 broke with that tradition when it found that:

  • A parent’s financial resources can help determine his or her appropriate child support obligation; and
  • The income of the mother’s new husband counted as an increase in her financial resources.

Courts will not directly include your new spouse’s income when calculating your child support obligation. Instead, it will reasonably consider whether your current share of child support is fair if your new spouse’s income decreases the percentage of your income that you use for other expenses.

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Goostree Law Group

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