In Illinois, for most families of divorce, child support ends once the child reaches adulthood. There are a few instances, however, where a parent can be ordered to pay child support beyond childhood and into the adult years according to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) at 750 ILCS 5/513. These years (age 18 and older) are referred to as the majority years, in opposition to the minority years (age 17 and younger). One of these instances includes the support of a disabled child. The IMDMA defines a disabled child as one who is “mentally or physically disabled and not otherwise emancipated.”
Illinois does not have a definitive rule regarding the ordering of child support for disabled adult children. However, the courts have the power to order such support according to a few a guidelines. The courts will consider the following:
- Both parents’ financial standing,
- The standard of living the child would have experienced if the parents had not divorced,
- The child’s financial resources,
- The child’s academic performance (used to determine support for college expenses), and
- The ability of the child to work.
Because the economic downfall has taken a devastating toll on Illinois, public funding for disabled persons is limited. The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) named Illinois as the 51st state in regards to providing funds/resources for disabled persons, making Illinois virtually the lowest on the list. Meanwhile, the percentage of disabled adults continues to grow. In 1985, the Social Security Administration provided disability insurance to a total of 2.2% of all Americans aging between 25-64. By 2005, this percentage had increased to 4.1%, yet public funding fails to grow with the aging population.
The disability of Illinois to serve the needs of its physically and mentally disabled persons requires many parents to rely on other forms of support upon divorcing their spouse. Therefore, Illinois has made it customary to order a parent to pay support beyond the age of minority in situations where the child is disabled.
For more information on child support and disabled children, please 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.
Illinois Bar Journal Volume 100, Number 12, p. 656. December 2012.