A Custodial Parent Can Be Ordered To Pay Child Support
It is generally expected that the parent who has residential, primary or sole custody of the children in a divorce will receive child support from the other parent. However, what is not often realized or applied is that the parent who has custody of the children may have to pay the other parent child support. Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court decided a case in which the Court held that nothing in Illinois' law on child support restricts a court from ordering a custodial parent to pay child support to a non-custodial parent.
Recent Case in Illinois
The case, In re Marriage of Iris Turk, highlights the Illinois legislature's paramount goal of protecting the child's best interest in child custody and support cases. In Turk, the mother had originally been awarded custody of the children, and the father ordered to pay unallocated maintenance and child support. After the parents kept going back to court for modifications on the original order, the father ended up being awarded temporary custody. The court eventually awarded the father custody and the mother weekly visits with the children. On holidays, spring breaks, and summer vacations, the parents were to have equal time with the children. Nevertheless, the Court also ordered the father to continue paying child support to the mother for the upkeep of the children.
The Illinois Supreme Court stated that the law in question in this case, Section 505(a) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, is about the child's right to be supported by both parents. Therefore, in a joint custody agreement such as the one the parents in the case had, it was in the child's best interest to have the custodial parent pay some child support to the other parent. This is especially true when the custodial parent earns significantly more than the non-custodial parent. In this case, the mother earned less than $10,000 a year while the father earned around $150,000.
Similar Standards of Living for the Child
Without the custodial parent paying child support, the child would essentially have to live a double life, and be required to adjust to living within the economic ability of the parent he or she happened to be with at the time. The Illinois Supreme Court found this was not in the best interest of the child because it would negatively affect the child, both economically as well as psychologically. In a divorce, the child's life should continue with as little disruption as possible. That means that the child should have the same standard of living as he or she would have had if the parents had not divorced.
This decision changes how many people view child support awards. Because a child has the right to be supported by both parents, a court may order a custodial parent to pay child support if the Court believes that it would be in a child's best interest. This is not standard or automatic in each case, and there are still a lot of others factors a court has to take into consideration in arriving at a fair decision. Therefore, it is important to consult an attorney experienced in child support matters for a consultation on your specific case.
Contact an Illinois Attorney
If you have questions on how this decision may affect your child support situation, contact the family law attorneys at Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC for a consultation.