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Barrington, IL family law attorney legal guardianship

In some instances, both biological parents raising their child is not a possibility. Maybe the child has lost his or her parents or perhaps the parents have a history of abuse and therefore lost custody of their child. When a parent dies or is deemed unable to care for a child, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will typically look to the child’s next of kin to be his or her caregiver. Aunts, uncles, and grandparents are valid options to care for the child as a legal guardian. However, grandparents may struggle to financially support the child, especially if they are retired and do not have a biweekly income. Luckily, the state of Illinois offers a number of financial assistance options to help these guardians support their grandchild.

Assistance Options

The Illinois government provides legal guardians with financial assistance in a number of ways. Depending on your financial situation, you may be eligible to receive the following assistance:

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How Child Support Can Help Pay for CollegeA parent’s financial responsibility to their child does not always end when the child turns 18. Many children need help to pay for their continuing education after high school, whether that is attending a community college or a four-year university. Because of this, child support payments can continue after a child turns 18 so that both parents are helping pay for college. However, the child support payments will end if you do not take action. You must file a court motion to extend child support for college expenses and explain how much support your child will need from the paying parent.

What Does College Child Support Cover?

Illinois normally uses an income shares table to calculate how much both parents should pay towards child expenses. When continuing child support for college, you need to present the expenses that you expect to pay for your child’s education, such as:

  • Tuition and fees to attend the college
  • Room and board, which can include off-campus housing
  • College application fees
  • Textbooks and other required materials
  • Healthcare coverage
  • Living expenses for when the child is living on their own, even if college is not in session

As a condition for ordering continued child support, the court may require the student to make a good-faith effort to limit expenses. For instance, the child may need to choose the less expensive college when deciding between multiple colleges that will provide equitable opportunities.

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What Qualifies as a Change of Circumstances When Modifying Child Support?The child support payments that are established during a divorce are meant to be modified as the needs of the children and means of the parents change over time. Illinois allows co-parents to petition to modify their child support agreement every three years or when there has been a significant change of circumstances. How do you define a significant change of circumstances to know whether you qualify for immediate modification? Incomes and expenses can fluctuate frequently, but a court will not grant an immediate modification for minor changes. To modify your child support payments, you will need to prove that the payments are unbalanced or unfair, based on the current circumstances. Here are four changes of circumstances that typically allow immediate modification:

  1. Loss of Employment: A parent losing their job will significantly reduce their income. Unemployment benefits or severance pay are only temporary sources of income, and there is no guarantee that the parent will find a new job with the same pay. A long-term reduction of income will significantly affect the child support income shares formula. The co-parents will have less income available for child support, and the employed parent may need to pay a greater share of the obligation.
  2. Promotion or Raise: Increased income for either parent can allow a change in child support payments. The total child support obligation is based on the combined incomes of the parents and divided according to the parents’ proportionate incomes. Courts allow an immediate modification of child support if the increased income would have changed the family’s standard of living if the parents were still married.
  3. Change in Child Needs: The cost of supporting a child can increase or decrease depending on the child’s age and whether he or she develops special needs. A parent can argue that child support payments should be modified because the actual cost of supporting the child is different than the child support obligation.
  4. Child Becomes an Adult: A financial obligation to a child ends when that child turns 18 or graduates from high school – whichever happens later. The paying parent can call for an immediate reduction in child support if there is one less child that he or she is supporting. However, child support can continue past high school if the child requests help to pay for college.

Contact a Barrington Divorce Attorney

If your request for modification is approved, the court can retroactively change the child support payments, starting from the date when you first filed the petition. A Barrington, Illinois, family law lawyer at Joseph M. Lucas & Associates, LLC, can help you start your petition for child support modification and guide you throughout the process. Schedule a consultation by calling 847-381-8700. 

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