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Child Support Doesn't Always End at 18 in Illinois - Exceptions for Children with Disabilities

In most states, child support obligations end when the child turns the age of majority. Upon turning the age of majority, a child is now considered an adult, legally able to make decisions for himself or herself, thus relieving parents of a legal duty to support the child. The age of majority can range from 18 to 21. The age of majority in Illinois 18, or 19 depending on whether or not the child is still in high school when he or she turns 18.

 

There is, however, an exception to the law terminating child support at the age of majority in most states - Illinois included. Illinois law states the following:

"When the child is mentally or physically disabled and not otherwise emancipated, an application for support may be made before or after the child has attained majority."

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 750, §5/513(a)(1)

 

In other words, a parent may still seek child support from the disabled adult's other parent in cases where the disabled adult is either physically or mentally disabled. In the eyes of the court, the term "disabled" is generally referred to in an economic sense. This means that the court looks at the ability of the disabled adult to earn an income, independent of his or her parents' economic support.

 

For example, in Presley v. Presley, 65 Md. App. 265, 500 A.2d 322 (1985), a case arising out of Maryland, the parents disputed child support obligations for their adult daughter who suffered from mild mental retardation. The daughter was indeed employed, making over $14,000 per year. However, the mother assisted her daughter in paying for medical expenses, a car, and other monthly bills that could not be paid with the daughter's salary alone. The court found that there was a direct causal relationship between the daughter's mental disability and her ability to make a sufficient income, and that she was indeed disabled under the meaning of the statute. The court ultimately held that the daughter was entitled to child support. The judge declared the following:

 

"The child need not be penniless, nor may he be profligate. The duty of support arises when the child has insufficient resources and, because of mental or physical infirmity, insufficient income capacity to enable him to meet his reasonable living expenses." Id. at 328.

 

For more information on child support for disabled adults, feel free to contact The Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.

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