The Supreme Court Says You Can Be Required to Pay Child Support to the Other Parent Even When You Have Custody

Scales of justiceThe Supreme Court decided that Section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/505 (West 2012)) permits a trial court to award child support to a noncustodial parent.   The Court also had to decide if the trial court abused its discretion when it awarded $600 per month in child support to the noncustodial parent, in addition to requiring the custodial parent to pay additional medical and dental expenses for the children.  The Supreme Court reversed the amount of money to be paid, and the trial court is charged with re-setting an appropriate dollar figure for Steven to pay Iris.

Iris and Steven Turk were married in October of 1993 and have two sons, Nathaniel, born in 1997, and Jacob, born in 1999. In 2004, Iris filed a petition in the circuit court of Cook County seeking dissolution of the marriage, division of the property, sole custody of the boys, and an award of maintenance and child support. Steven, in turn, filed a counter petition for dissolution requesting, among other things, that the award of custody be joint.  The parties ultimately agreed to terms of their divorce and the judgment, filed July 25, 2005, said that Steven would pay Iris $4,000 per month in unallocated maintenance and child support for 42 months, that the parties would have joint custody of the children.  The children would reside with Iris, and that Steven would provide the medical insurance for the children and cover 50% of their out-of-pocket medical and dental costs.
Over the years, Steven and Iris frequently returned to court to contest matters related to the custody and education of the children. Eventually, in October of 2010, the court granted temporary physical custody of the two boys to Steven, limited Iris to supervised visitation, and made a one-time reduction in the amount Steven was then paying for child support.  Steven asked the court to terminate his support obligation to Iris since the children now lived with him.  The trial court allowed him to reduce his payment, but still required a payment of $700.00 a month to Iris.

In Illinois, the support of a child is the joint and several obligation of both the husband and the wife. If the couple’s marriage dissolves, the court may apportion child support obligations between them. The standards governing court-awarded child support are set forth in section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/505 (West 2012)).  The law provides that: “the best interest of the child in light of the evidence, including, but not limited to, one or more of the following relevant factors:
(a) the financial resources and needs of the child;
(b) the financial resources and needs of the custodial parent;
(c) the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;
(d) the physical, mental, and emotional needs of the child;
(d-5) the educational needs of the child; and
(e) the financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(2) (West 2012).

After an extensive analysis of the statute, and looking at others states case law, our Supreme Court holds that a custodial parent may be required to pay monies to the non-custodial parent.  Every case like this is based on the specific facts of the case however, so its hard to apply a bright line without a clear understanding of the facts.  What stood out in this case was the amount of money that Steven made, compared to the little amount that Iris made.



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