The Illinois legislature has recently enacted a law that allows the courts to specifically include additional child support amounts to the set guidelines. Under 750 ILCS 5/505 (a)(2.5):
The court, in its discretion, in addition to setting child support pursuant to the guidelines and factors, may order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child of the marriage to contribute to the following expenses, if determined by the court to be reasonable:
(a) health needs not covered by insurance;
(b) child care;
(c) education; and
(d) extracurricular activities.
Paying attention to the above amendment should place both custodial and non-custodial parents on alert to the possibility of added financial exposure regarding children’s needs. Custodial parents now need to consider requesting (and being prepared to prove the reasonableness of) additional support for before and after-care costs needed to allow that parent to continue employment. Tuition and fees for children who attend private school (especially where the choice was made some time prior to the breakdown of the marriage)is now “in play” in the settlement negotiations between parents. Note also that the costs associated with school-sponsored athletic, artistic, and cultural events is now subject to court determination of reasonableness in terms of cost and best interest of the child or children standard. This consideration probably extends to non-school associated athletic, artistic and cultural activities as well.
Understand also that “education” encompasses a wide array of academic enrichment, tutorial and supplemental expenditures for the child or children of the parties. These costs can range from tutoring, mentoring, additional books, supplies, enrichment classes, test preparation courses, religious education, boy scout and girl scout costs, and other costs tied to the education of the child or children.
What to do? Make sure that you keep proofs of payments for non-reimbursed health related costs for the child or children, and keep accurate records and proofs for babysitting, daycare, before and aftercare, and other such costs. This means paying by check, or some other verifiable method of payment. At the end of the day, you and your child or children’s parent are going to have to try to maintain some semblance of communication; even if the communication is between a trusted intermediary. Believe me, it is better than having the conversation in the courthouse hallway during a contested hearing on child support modification under the new statute.