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Illinois Child Support Laws Explained Through Kanye West Puns

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Dear Kanye,

I’m really happy for you, Kim, and the whole Kardashian-West family. Unfortunately, I’m writing to give you some difficult news. Judging by your lyrics in Gold Digger, your understanding of family law is, at best, uninformed. Now that you’re a family man, I think it’s time we talked.

First, let’s start with “She got one of your kids, got you for 18 years.” Child support really lasts until high school Graduation or your child turning 19, whichever comes first. Your child support obligation will terminate after 18 years only if your child has also graduated high school. I have more Bad News, Illinois law requires parents to contribute toward the college education expenses of their children. Realistically, you are looking at being ordered to provide financially for your child, in one form or another, for roughly 22 years. Of course, your obligation would end early if your child was a College Dropout. You also won’t have a support obligation during any time between Graduation Day and your child’s Late Registration for college.

“I know somebody paying child support for one of his kids/His baby momma’s car and crib is bigger than his.” Who wants a big car anyway? You have to Drive Slow and they devour gas. Nonetheless, this is somewhat close to the law’s intent. The goal of child support guidelines is to ensure that a child’s parents spend the same amount on the child regardless of whether their marriage stayed intact. The fancy econ term for it is “the continuity of expenditure principal.” Child support is not a mean of subsistence. Rather, it’s aim it to provide a child a constant standard of living. You can’t live the Good Life and Runaway from your child’s needs. In practice, this means that your ex is going to receive some benefit from your child support payments.

“She was supposed to buy your shorty Tyco with your money/She went to the doctor got lipo with your money/She walking around looking like Michael with your money.” You Never Let Me Down with your MJ references. Look, child support is to be used for any cost that can be attributed to the child. This certainly includes things like private school, daycare, and medical bills. It also includes the marginal increase in utility costs that could be attributed to the child (think of All Of The Lights kids leave on), additional expenditures on basic food like milk, eggs, and H.A.M., and other things that don’t appear as separate line items on bank statements. A lot of child support is actually repayment to the residential parent for those expenses who can then use that repaid money for any purpose.

I must admit, you do have a right to be So Appalled. Child support guidelines weren’t designed for high earners. If you were ordered to pay child support at the statutory rate, it would greatly exceed what anyone could possibly spend on his or her child. That’s an outcome our state legislators Don’t Like. That’s why courts have discretion to deviate from the guidelines when appropriate. If you have questions, call me (try my cell first).

“If you ain’t no punk, holla ‘We want prenup!’ ‘We want prenup!’ Yeah. It’s something that you need to have/Cause when she leave your ass she gonna leave with half.” You should know that you can’t contract away your child’s right to receive child support. However, you can certainly draft a prenuptial agreement to address the division of property. Of course, like in any negotiation, you will need to incentivize that trade off. May I suggest promising your fiancée that, should the two of you ever separate, you won’t record an entire auto-tuned album about what a cold, heartless monster she is?

“18 years, 18 years/And on the 18th birthday he found out it wasn’t his?” I Wonder how that happened. Did he sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity? Unlike a birth certificate, a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity creates a legal presumption that the signor is the child’s father, even if it is based on misinformation. Once that presumption exists, the father can be ordered to pay child support.

Why didn’t your friend get a DNA test? Illinois provides free DNA testing if paternity is at issue. The good news is that if he didn’t sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, he should be able to avoid incurring college education expenses.

I know everything is rosy with you and Kim right now, and I’m happy for you. Truly. I just hope that you and Kim take the time to sit down and have an honest discussion about parenting and marriage. Many family law problems can be avoided by having frequent and frank conversations. However, should the need arise, give me a call, or just stop by my apartment (you still have a key, right?).

Sincerely,

Josh

P.S., Taylor Swift had it coming, am I right?

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