February 1, 2011

Kane County Divorce: The Dilemma of Child Support

Child support in a divorce case is often a contentious issue for divorcing parents. Divorce consultant and author Lee Block discussed child support issues in the Huffington Post's new Divorce section of this online journal. Ms. Block states:

Child support is always a hot bed of discussion. There are several reasons for this and the main one is, what exactly does child support cover? There are so many questions about child support and frankly no good answers. Child support becomes an emotional issue instead of a financial one, and everyone has a different view and opinion of what it should cover and how much should be paid.

Illinois child support statutes do not make the subject of child support easier to manage. While some of our neighboring states have adopted sophisticated matrices for allocating between both parents the burdens of financial support of children in a divorce, Illinois still requires that (a) the court determine a "residential parent" (ie a winner and loser of custody), and (b) for the "non-residential parent," a percentage payment based on their net income.

I understand the frustration and hurt of the "nonresidential parent" (most often a father) and the requirement that he have visitation and pay child support, without any statutory requirement that the residential parent account for how the child support payments are used. In some cases, the custodial parent uses the child support payments to augment his or her own personal lifestyle, leasing a new car or taking an adults only vacation with the child support funds.

I would like to see a fairer system of child support employed in Illinois. At the very least, the recipient parent should be required to use the funds received for the direct support of the child, and should account for the use of the funds, or at least be required by court order to use these funds for the children. I would also like to see Illinois adopt statutory presumed shared parenting, and create a child support matrix that would allocate financial support for the children between both parents. These changes would create a stronger sense of equity in divorce and take some of the sting out of contested custody cases.

Will Illinois ever make these changes? I feel this is doubtful. Illinois recently had a chance to consider a shared parenting statute, and this was jettisoned in favor of keeping the old, archaic status quo "winner and loser" custody statute. Illinois will balance its budget, I fear, faster that it will implement modern, equitable changes in its child custody and support statutes.

In representing parents in child custody cases, one must be diligent and employ cutting edge approaches to ensure the most equitable outcome for good parents. Illinois law makes these equitable results more challenging: all the more reason to have an experienced, creative lawyer on your side.