Many parents mistakenly believe that an Illinois court-ordered child support order covers their entire financial obligation to their children after a divorce. Those parents are often surprised when the court orders them to pay for additional expenses above and beyond their child support payment. They may feel that paying for additional costs is excessive and unfair considering how much they already pay in child support.

Illinois state law issued child support guidelines at a set percentage of the paying parent’s net income. Net income is defined as the person’s total income minus all taxes and Social Security payments, health insurance premiums, union dues, and any other alimony and support payments.

The child support payment is linked to number of children involved in the proceeding:

  • One child – 20 percent of net income
  • Two children – 28 percent of net income
  • Three children – 32 percent of net income
  • Four children – 40 percent of net income
  • Five children – 45 percent of net income
  • Six or more children – 50 percent of net income

The state has come up with these guidelines to help courts apply a uniform schedule across all child support cases. Courts in Chicago and other parts of Illinois may deviate from this schedule if they find a compelling reason to do so. However, in most cases, the court sticks to the payment schedule defined by law.

Child support is defined as payments to cover a child’s basic expenses, such as food, clothing, and shelter. The state has also recognized that a child will likely have extra expenses above and beyond these basic requirements.

Those extra expenses could include things like health care costs, dental expenses, child care, and sports team fees. Often, the extra costs are either one-time expenses that are unlikely to occur again or temporary recurring expenses that will go away at some point in time.

An example of a one-time fee could be a large deductible payment for medical care for an injury the child suffered. Another could be braces, glasses, or some other one-time medical cost.

Child care is often a recurring expense that will go away at some point in time. If the children aren’t yet school age, they’ll likely require care so the custodial parent can work outside the home. A non-custodial parent will likely be required to contribute to the daycare expense in addition to his or her child support payment.

Often, payer parents don’t include these additional expenses in their budget. As they adjust to their life post-marriage, they may focus only on defined expenses like alimony and child support. It’s important to realize that, in the court’s eyes, supporting the child doesn’t end with child support.