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Columns

In Your Court: Illinois Supreme Court rules courts may order custodial parents to pay noncustodial parents child support

The Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled “ ... a trial court may order the custodial parent to pay child support to the noncustodial parent where circumstances and the best interests of the child warrant it.”

Simplified fact scenario:

Husband and wife divorced and had one minor child as a result of their marriage. Husband earned $150,000 a year, and wife earned a nominal income. The judgment for dissolution of marriage granted the parties joint custody, wife residential custody and ordered husband to pay wife unallocated maintenance and child support of $4,000 a month for three years.

Several years later, the court entered an agreed custody judgment and parenting order granting husband sole custody of the child and wife liberal visitation, so the parties had nearly equal parenting time. Further, the court entered a separate order ordering husband to pay wife $600 monthly child support.

Husband appealed, arguing the court could not impose a duty of child support on the custodial parent. The Appellate Court rejected husband’s argument, and husband appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Illinois Supreme Court reviewed the relevant portions of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, particularly, according to 750 ILCs 5/505(a):

“ ... the court may order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child of the marriage to pay an amount reasonable and necessary for the support of the child, without regard to marital misconduct.” 

The court noted the statute does not limit child support obligations to noncustodial parents, and its intended purpose is to ensure children are supported by their parents with an appropriate amount based on the parents’ income.

“If custodial parents were categorically exempt from child support obligations, the wealthier parent’s resources would be beyond the court’s consideration and reach even though the visitation schedule resulted in the child actually residing with the poorer parent for a substantial period each week. This could be detrimental to the child psychologically as well as economically … .”

The case is In Re Marriage of Iris Turk, 2014 IL 116730.

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