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NOTE: As of July 2017, the law governing child support in Illinois has changed. Please see our Child Support page for more information.

Child Support for a Child With DisabilitiesIf you are ordered by the Illinois court to pay child support, generally that support obligation will end at age 18 or as long as the child is still in high school. However, when a child is disabled then a parent who pays child support may be obligated to pay child support even after the child reaches adulthood.

Child Support Rules Generally

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child support special needsGenerally, the duty to pay child support terminates when the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever happens last. The law is structured this way because there is presumption that after a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, he or she would be capable of supporting him or herself. However, under certain circumstances the legal duty to pay child support can continue past these two occurrences. One common situation where child support continues is when there is a child with disabilities.

The reason behind continued child support for a disabled child over the age of majority stems from the simple fact that the child is unable, for whatever disability, to support him or herself. Because of this, the legal and financial responsibility often falls on the disabled adult’s parents to continue the support. Unfortunately, disabled adults often have unique financial demands – like tuition for specialized educational institutions or excessive health care costs.

The Law

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guardianship, limited guardianship, plenary guardianship, disabled teen, disabled adult, testamentary guardianshipRaising a disabled child, particularly one who has psychological or intellectual disabilities can be a difficult and trying experience. As your child approaches his/her 18th birthday, there are a number of things to consider. In most states, the responsibilities of a young adult are assigned when a youth turns 18. Assuming guardianship of your child may be the best option to help you protect your child as they enter adulthood.

Under Illinois state law, there are two types of guardianship that you may consider. The first of these is limited guardianship. This type of guardianship is used when the disabled person can make some, but not all, decisions pertaining to themselves and their finances or estate. When assuming limited guardianship, the powers granted to you must be specifically listed within the court order. This type of guardianship can grant you limited guardianship of the person, finances/estate, or both. The second type of guardianship is plenary guardianship. This type of guardianship is more restrictive than the first, and is used when the “individual’s mental, physical, and adaptive limitations” make it necessary for the guardian to make all important decisions regarding personal care and finances. There is one other option that you need to consider: testamentary guardianship. This is used by parents of a disabled child to designate a guardian upon the death of both parents in your will. While the final guardian will still need to be appointed and approved by the court, this ensures that the courts will take your wishes for guardianship into account before making their decision. It is important to remember that should your proposed guardian be found inappropriate, the court will still have the power to appoint someone else. Knowing which type of guardianship to consider and what steps are necessary to assume guardianship can be difficult. Having a qualified family law attorney can help make the process smoother for your family. Contact the experienced family law attorneys at Davi Law Group, LLC today for a consultation on your case.

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