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How Do Courts Consider Child Expenses and Expenditures When Calculating Child Support Obligations?

How Do Courts Consider Child Expenses and Expenditures When Calculating Child Support Obligations?

By: M. Scott Gordon

Now that the state of Illinois uses the income shares model for child support, both parents have a duty to contribute to the costs of childrearing. Rather than only one parent (typically the non-custodial parent) paying child support to the other parent (typically the custodial parent) for child support, the law now recognizes that parents should share in the costs associated with raising their children.

The new income shares model does not assume that both parents earn the same amount of money, however. For example, even if both parents split parenting time 50/50, this does not mean that they necessarily contribute equally to the child support obligation. Instead, the court uses a formula that calculates each parent’s support obligation. Can that calculation consider how much the parents spend on extracurricular expenses, childcare costs, and healthcare expenses? We want to say more about how these expenses and expenditures are taken into account when determining each parent’s child support obligation.

Learning More About Expenses and Expenditures in Calculating the Child Support Obligation

Typical expenses or expenditures related to children often include but are not limited to the following:

  • School costs;
  • Extracurricular expenses, such as sports fees, music lessons, or dance classes;
  • Childcare expenses, such as nanny or babysitter fees, or daycare costs;
  • Healthcare expenses, such as paying for doctor’s office or dentist’s office visits, hospital bills, or prescription medications; and
  • Health insurance expenses.

When parents are getting divorced and know that the court will be calculating their child support obligations, the parents typically fill out an expenditure table. According to an income shares fact sheet from Illinois.gov, the expenditure table is a “tool that identifies how much parents residing together spend on their children” using information from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The expenditure table allows each parent to list out expenses related to housing, clothing, food, transportation, entertainment, education and extracurricular activities, miscellaneous expenses related to out-of-pocket healthcare and personal care, and other ordinary costs associated with raising children. The expenditure table does not include childcare expenses, health insurance, or extraordinary medical expenses that are not covered by the child’s health insurance.

How Do Expenditures Affect a Parent’s Child Support Obligation?

When one parent provides health insurance for the child, that parent typically will receive a credit in calculating income for support calculations. In addition, work-related childcare expenses can become part of the overall child support obligation, although it is considered a separate expense to be shared to allow both parents to work.

Other expenses are also separate from the child support calculation. For example, school costs or extracurricular expenses are not part of the support obligation, and Court will decide if one or both parents have a duty to contribute to the child’s extracurricular expenses beyond the basic child support obligation.

Contact a Chicago Child Support Lawyer

Understanding how certain expenses can affect the child support can be extremely complicated, and it is important to work with a Chicago child support attorney. An advocate at our firm can speak with you today. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates for more information.