It should come as no surprise to Illinois residents that raising a child is expensive. Even if one’s schooling is free, textbooks, childcare, medical visits, school trips and extracurricular activities create added expenses that the parents must pay for out-of-pocket. When a couple with children divorces, their divorce decree generally specifies how these expenses will be split between the parents. Ideally, the order looks into the future and takes into account growing expenses as the children grow. While it is important to know what the payments cover, it is also important to know when the payments will end. Allocation of parental responsibility is not indefinite—there is an end date and both parties should know until when their responsibility goes on.

In Illinois, payments continue at least until the child turns 18. However, if the child is still in high school when he or she turns 18, support will continue at least until high school is finished or the child turns 19. Additionally, termination of support does not affect previously unpaid child support.

If a child applies to become emancipated from one’s parents, then courts may allow support to be terminated. This is because the child is considered an adult after emancipation. This applies even if the child joins the military. Children can marry in the state after they turn 16, with their parent’s permission. Since the child will be considered independent once married, support will end at that point also. Lastly, if the child is adopted by someone else, the other parent’s parental responsibility ends and therefore, so do support payments.

Support payments are an essential way to ensure a custodial parent is able to provide a standard of living to children that they are used to. To ensure continuity and stability in everyone’s lives, knowing when payments go up to is very useful. These issues are generally addressed by the court and parents should make sure it is covered in theirs.

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