There is often a lot of litigation over setting a child support amount, mostly because the obligor claims he cannot afford it. What often comes as a shocker is when non-custodial parents realize there is more than just child support. Per 750 ILCS 5/505, the non-custodial parent is also responsible for 50% of other expenses, including but not limited to: uncovered medical expenses, child care, education and extracurricular activities.
In order to protect our clients from an abuse of this provision, we try to word agreements and orders in a way that gives the non-custodial parent more say in a situation before he is stuck with the bill. For example, adding a child to your medical insurance does not always mean that the premium will increase. For family plans, the amount will often be the same. If you are able to include the child into your health insurance, the entire amount for health insurance can be included as a deduction for child support purposes thus lowering your child support obligation.
For education, if both parties have joint custody, then both parties would need to approve the school before the child is enrolled. If worded correctly, you should not be stuck with a private school bill if you did not agree to it. You may still be responsible for all other school expenses such as books, registration and any other school-related expenses.
For extracurricular activities, we often include that the parties must agree to that activity, and not unreasonably withhold their consent, before they are responsible for paying 50% of said expense. That prevents one parent from enrolling the child in several activities without the other parent’s consent and then expecting the other parent to foot half the bill. The parent must not unreasonably withhold their consent, however. So not agreeing to any activity in order to avoid paying for any expenses would not fly.
It is important to incorporate the proper language in court documents when addressing these issues in order to prevent an excessive amount of expenses that you cannot afford.