Although Child support is an issue beyond the purview of the office of Chicago’s mayor, it is an issue which greatly affects millions of Chicago residents. This quality of life issue impacts a significant number of school aged childern. Therefore, we would be remiss if we did not express our views on the subject.
Both parents are responsible for ensuring that the basic financial needs of the child are met. Court ordered Child support is intended as a means of ensuring the child has the essential necessities, such as housing, food, clothing and education. A child support award should be narrow and limited to ensure coverage of those various expenses.
Child-support laws in Illinois follow federal guidelines. Following a divorce or in cases of unmarried parents, with established paternity, the court may order both or either parent to pay Child support while the child is under the age of 18, or under 19 if still attending high school.
Court ordered Child support may, but does not necessarily, cover the cost of extracurricular activities. The mandate to pay for sports, dance or music lessons or to provide money for vacations or cultural development related activities varies according to the level of support the child was provided before a divorce occurred, as well as the parent’s ability to pay for those specific things.
Illinois law generally requires the non-custodial parent to pay child support based upon a percentage of their net income and the number of children for which he or she is responsible.
It is imperative that Child support awards consider the best interests of the child. However, it is equally important that the parent is left with an amount of their net income which will allow them to remain economically viable and self-sufficient.
Failure to pay child support due to a bonafide inability to pay should not result in the incarceration of any individual. That defeats the purpose. An incarcerated parent is less likely than ever to have the means to pay child support. Additionally, the child is deprived of the benefit of spending valuable time with that parent.
Instead of incarcerating a parent who may be delinquent in the payment of Child support, courts should impose narrowly drawn economic sanctions intended to ensure compliance. Typically, authorities and government agencies, expend funds to provide for the child’s needs. Those entities mandated to provide Public Assistance or other Welfare payments, should counsel parents who are delinquent but willing to pay. Rather than simply have the affected family become dependent upon welfare payments, those agencies should provide parents the support, education, skills, training and other developmental things necessary to enable them become stable and to pay Child support.