The family court system of Metro East, IL upholds that every child has the right to financial support from both of their parents and that both parents have an equal obligation to provide this financial support. When parents divorce with children, they must form a child custody and support agreement that outlines each parent’s custody rights and support responsibilities. In almost every divorce agreement, including those in which both parents share custody, one parent will pay child support to the other.

If you have a child support agreement with your ex, and you are the one paying child support, it’s vital to understand how child support is supposed to function and what it is supposed to provide to your children. If you suspect that your ex is misusing your child support, an experienced Metro East, IL divorce attorney is a great resource.

How Is Child Support Determined?

Unless the divorced parents have completely equal custody rights, make the exact same amount of money, and spend the exact same amount of time with their children on a regular basis, divorced parents should expect some type of child support agreement to take effect as part of their divorce proceedings.

Every state uses different formulas for calculating child support amounts. In Illinois, divorcing parents can expect the family court judge overseeing their case to consider multiple factors in determining their support arrangement, such as:

  • The income earned by each parent.
  • The job prospects and anticipated future employability of each parent.
  • Each parent’s custody rights.
  • The suitability of the living space each parent can provide to their children.
  • The estimated total amount of the child’s monthly living expenses.

The court will assess these and many other factors to determine a suitable amount of child support the paying parent must remit to the custodial parent and the frequency of such payments. Most child support agreements require monthly payments, but it is possible to arrange alternative payment schedules based on the parents’ respective needs.

The court must also determine the anticipated cost of the child’s living expenses based on cost of living in the area and the child’s unique needs. Once the court has assessed all of these factors, a Metro East, IL family court judge will rule on child support based on these factors and the custody rights of the parent. Ultimately, virtually every custody agreement includes child support provisions, and child support intends to help pay for a child’s basic living expenses like food, shelter, and clothing. Illinois family court judges also tend to uphold that child support should contribute to paying for the child’s transportation costs, medical care, and other activities.

How Can a Receiving Parent Use Child Support?

If you are the parent paying child support to your children’s other parent, do what you can to ensure they use these funds appropriately. The custodial parent receiving child support may use their support funds to help pay for monthly rent or their mortgage as these expenses provide the child a safe place to live. They should also use their child support funds for purchasing food and new clothing as their children grow. While it’s generally acceptable for a recipient parent to use child support funds for entertainment purposes, these expenses should only form a small portion of the total amount of support received with each payment.

Unfortunately, some parents who receive child support do not use child support funds appropriately. In the event a paying parent discovers that the recipient parent has misused child support funds, this may constitute grounds for petitioning for a change to the parents’ support and/or custody terms. If a Metro East, IL family court judge determines that sufficient evidence exists to suggest the recipient has misused child support funds, such as spending the money on themselves while failing to provide the children with their basic living needs, the court may require the recipient to provide a full accounting of their spending habits.

This information may reveal that they indeed knowingly misused child support funds. However, this does not mean that the paying parent will be released from their child support obligation. The court will not deprive a child of financial support because of the malfeasance of their custodial parent. Instead, the court may require the custodial parent to begin remitting receipts and other proof of their use of child support funds to prove that they are using their child support funds appropriately.

Can Misuse of Child Support Alter Child Custody?

Repeated misuse of child support funds can legally constitute a “material change of circumstances” in some cases, and it may be possible for a noncustodial parent who is paying child support to petition for greater custody rights if they can prove the current custodial parent has been consistently misusing child support funds.

Filing a modification to your custody and support order is a relatively straightforward process, but it is best to have legal counsel on your side if you decide to take formal legal steps to address this situation. Your attorney can help you draft your petition for modification, helping you gather the evidence and supporting documentation you may require proving that your ex has misused their child support funds and failed to provide for your children’s basic living expenses.

Depending on the severity of your coparent’s behavior, this modification could present an opportunity to become the custodial parent of your children if you can prove that such a change would suit their best interests more closely than remaining in the current custody arrangement. Again, having an attorney assist you is invaluable as they will have the experience and resources to help you create the most compelling possible case for expanding your custody rights or altering your support terms.

Find an Attorney as Soon as Possible

If you suspect that your children’s other parent is misusing the child support money you send them on a regular basis, it is crucial to act immediately. While it can be frustrating enough to know that your money is going to your ex instead of your children, your kids are the ones who ultimately suffer from this behavior, and swift legal action is the best way to put a stop to it as soon as possible. If you believe your ex is misusing child support, contact an experienced Metro East, IL divorce attorney as soon as possible to assist you in rectifying the situation.