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Custodial Parents Can Be Ordered to Pay Child Support to Noncustodial Parents

Posted on in Child Custody

Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Illinois divorce lawyer, DuPage County family law attorney,In June 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court considered whether state law permits child support payments to noncustodial parents. Typically, it is the noncustodial parent who makes support payments because this parent does not have physical custody of the child. And if the custodial parent has sole custody, then the noncustodial parent does not have legal custody either.

The case, In re Marriage of Turk, involved a divorced couple with joint custody of their two children. Initially, the court ordered the noncustodial parent to make regular support payments, which he did. Eventually, however, the court awarded sole custody to the father (who was originally the noncustodial parent). The mother became the noncustodial parent with limited visitation rights. The father objected to his ongoing child support obligation, arguing that the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act does not authorize court-ordered support payments to the noncustodial parent.

According to the Illinois Supreme Court, when a marriage dissolves, both parents are responsible for supporting their child. Here, the father argues that, as the custodial parent, he is already fully responsible for supporting the children, and that he should not be required to pay child support to the noncustodial mother. The court did not agree with his interpretation of state law, holding that:

  • While some states impose child support obligations solely on the noncustodial parent, Illinois law permits courts to order either or both parents to make support payments; and
  • Illinois law also permits courts to order either or both parents to contribute to various expenses, including the child’s medical needs.

The Court’s Reasoning

One basis for the court’s decision is the statutory guidelines regarding how much support a parent is obliged to pay. The court noted that the language is broad and does not make custody a dispositive issue. The most important consideration is the best interests of the child. Additionally, a court should consider such factors as:

  • The child’s financial resources and needs;
  • The custodial parent’s financial resources and needs;
  • The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had endured;
  • The child’s physical, mental and emotional needs; and
  • The noncustodial parent’s financial resources and needs.

The court also examined statutory provisions that single out the noncustodial parent and concluded that these sections do not exempt custodial parents from support obligations. Rather, the court reasoned that noncustodial parents have distinct problems because they do not have actual custody of the child (e.g., keeping track of the noncustodial parent’s whereabouts and ensuring that the parent pays the support owed). Addressing those issues does not mean that the legislature intended to exempt custodial parents from making support payments.

Ultimately, both parents can be ordered to make child support payments. Our dedicated Kane County family law attorneys have experience handling child custody and child support issues. We will always advocate on behalf of your child’s best interests. Contact us today for a free consultation. We can assist those in the St. Charles area.

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