child support

child Support in Illinois

Child support is the amount of money that a non-custodial parent must pay the custodial parent to cover expenses for his or her minor child. Child support covers basic needs such as food, clothing and housing, and well as costs for extracurricular activities, transportation, medical expenses, private school and day care.  

When Does Child Support End?

Child support obligations typically end when the child turns 18 years old (or 19 years old if the child is still in high school until 19 years old). Child support can also end if the child becomes “emancipated” which happens when the child:

  • gets married,
  • joins the military,
  • moves out on their own and wants to be independent, or
  • gets a job and no longer requires their parent’s support.


New clients often mistakenly believe that alimony and child support are the same thing or that they are inseparable. Alimony (referred to in Illinois as “maintenance”) and child support are two different things. Just because a parent is entitled to child support does not mean that she or he is entitled to receive maintenance.

There is a statute in Illinois that sets forth guideline child support as a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s net income. Thus, in most cases child support is formulaic. Maintenance, on the other hand, does not have a guideline formula. The law provides factors that the court considers in determining whether maintenance should be paid and, if so, how much. Thus, maintenance tends to be customized more in each particular divorce case. 

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