When it comes to your child's financial needs, don't assume anything.
People often ask our Illinois child support attorneys whether gifts can count as child support. This might sound like a straightforward question, but the answer is much more complicated than you might suspect. Unfortunately, this also means you could inadvertently violate a child support order.
This is why if you have questions about child support, it's important to talk to a lawyer who understands the rules and how the legal system works in the state. The dedicated legal team at Courtney Clark Law, P.C. in Belleville, Illinois, can help you every step of the way. Contact us and schedule an appointment today.
What is child support?
After a divorce or legal separation, if the couple has children, one parent may be required to make periodic payments to pay for the care or support of the children. The amount of money paid in child support often depends on the financial situation of the two adults, particularly if one parent makes more money than the other parent.
Sometimes referred to as child maintenance, child support is paid by a non-custodial parent (legally known as the obligor) who is not primarily raising the child to the custodial parent (known as the obligee or caregiver) raising the child or children. Such periodic child support payments are often paid weekly or monthly.
More information about Illinois' rules and regulations regarding child support can be found at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Child Support.
What does child support cover?
To understand whether gifts count as child support, it's important to know what expenses child support normally covers. Such expenses often include money for the child's:
- Medical care
Do gifts count as child support in Illinois?
As explained above, child support payments are normally regular, periodic payments for essential living expenses such as food and rent. As a result, if one parent decides to give a gift to a child, that gift does not normally apply to child support for that week or month. So the short answer? No. In most cases, gifts do not count as child support in Illinois.
For example, if a parent pays $500 a month in child support and that parent gives the child a birthday gift worth $250, the parent who normally pays child support must still pay $500 a month in child support.
Can gifts ever count as child support?
There are certain rare circumstances in which gifts may count toward child support. However, in most cases, a family must submit a request for modification of child support to a judge as outlined in the rules for the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) in Illinois, which oversees the jurisdiction of child support payments in the state.
In general, such gifts in lieu of child support need to be regular gifts given on a consistent basis. For example, if one parent pays a child's monthly cellphone bill or car payment, such payments may be considered in lieu of child support, but only if such payments have been approved in advance.
However, it's important to understand that getting such approval can be very difficult. This is why either parent should talk to a family law attorney familiar with Illinois' complex child support rules and regulations.
Our attorneys can guide you down the right path.
Illinois' child support laws can be confusing. If you fail to make a child support payment because you assume that a gift covers this month's payment – or if it's the other way around and your former spouse did not pay you child support this month but instead gave your child a gift – you should talk to an attorney right away to fully understand the potential legal options available to you.
Our experienced Illinois child support lawyers at Courtney Clark Law, P.C. in Belleville, Illinois, know how the system works. As a result, we can answer your questions and explain your legal options so you can make informed decisions based on the facts.
Discover what we can do for you. Contact us today and schedule an appointment. We handle child support legal cases throughout Illinois.