A New Jersey judge’s decision has raised some eyebrows amongst family law practitioners. In one particular case, the judge has ordered that the noncustodial parent may satisfy part of his or her child support obligation by making child support payments directly to the child – even though the child is not emancipated and still living with the custodial parent. In the vast majority of child support cases, the noncustodial parent (or nonresidential parent) pays child support to the other parent with whom the child primarily lives. The recipient parent is then responsible for using that child support to care for the child. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the recipient parent is not required to give any accounting to the payor parent about how the funds are used.
The New Jersey judge’s decision made clear that an order allowing child support payments to be made directly to a child is not an order to be entered in every case. Before such an order was entered, the judge found that the child at issue was mature and had a certain level of financial understanding. The payments made directly to the child were to be utilized for preapproved expenses, and the child would have to provide an accounting of the child support payments he or she received to both of his or her parents.
Although such an arrangement might seem to be a good idea – after all, the child learns financial responsibility and accountability – legal professionals seem to agree that it would be improper for any court (even a family law court in Illinois) to utilize child support as a way of teaching lessons to the child. Children who are unemancipated and under the age of 18 years are presumed to need the care, oversight, and direction of their parents. In other words, these children are not able (from a legal standpoint) to make their own decisions regarding their care and upbringing.
Nevertheless, some payor parents in Illinois make “payments” to their children by giving them extra money. Some parents do this on their own while others will do so if their child asks them for money for specific expenses. It is important to note that these payments do not count toward satisfying the payor parent’s child support obligation. For example, a payor parent who owes $400 per month in child support cannot meet any portion of that obligation by making a payment directly to the child: if he or she gives the child $200 one month, that parent would still owe the full $400 for that month’s child support payment.
The experienced child support lawyers at Arami Law can help answer your Illinois child support-related questions and concerns. Whether you are seeking to establish a child support obligation for the first time or modify existing orders because of a change in circumstance, we can assist you in achieving your objectives. Contact our firm today at (312) 212-1399 or complete our online form for prompt assistance.
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