Under Illinois law, a non-custodial parent may be entitled to receive child support from a custodial parent. The Illinois Supreme Court, in In re Marriage of Turk, held that a trial court may order a custodial parent to pay a non-custodial parent child support where the circumstances and best interests of a child warrant it. 2014 IL 116730, ¶ 31. The Turk holding begs the following two questions: (1) when do the circumstances and best interest of a child warrant an award of non-custodial parent child support; and (2) if an award of non-custodial parent child support is warranted, then how is the amount of that award determined?
Circumstances and Best Interests of a Child that Warrant Non-Custodial Parent Child Support
The Turk court delineated several circumstances that may be sufficient for a proper award of non-custodial parent child support:
- the non-custodial parent has visitation with the child for periods that rival those of the custodial parent and at a commensurate cost;
- the non-custodial parent has significantly fewer resources to meet the substantial support costs that are sure to arise from the extensive visitation schedule; and
- not awarding child support to the non-custodial parent would place an unfair burden on the non-custodial parent and leave the non-custodial parent with insufficient resources to care for the child in a manner even minimally comparable to that of the custodial parent.
Id. at ¶ 24. In Turk, the custodial parent earned approximately $150,000 per year, while the non-custodial parent earned less than $10,000 per year. Id. at ¶ 9. Also, the non-custodial parent had approximately 25% of the total parenting time with the children. Id. at ¶ 54. The Turk court further reasoned that the best interests of a child would not be served if the child was forced to live a dual life in order to conform to the differing socio-economic classes of his or her parents because such a situation may cause the child to experience distress and other damaging emotional responses. Id. at ¶ 25. The circumstances and reasoning presented by the Turk court serve as guidelines, and whether an award of non-custodial parent child support is appropriate remains within the discretion of the trial court and is based on the totality of the circumstances presented.
Calculating the Amount of Non-Custodial Parent Child Support
Although the Turk court failed to explain the mechanics of how to properly calculate the amount of an award of non-custodial parent child support, the Turk court did state that the criteria for awarding and modifying child support are clearly set out in the statute and trial courts must follow the statute as written. Id. at ¶ 32. The statute that provides for child support awards is Section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.