Tips for Divorced Parents

In addition to setting child support pursuant to Section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a court in Illinois has the discretion to order either or both of the parties to pay for the following expenses attributable to the parties’ minor children:
a.) health expenses not covered by insurance;
b.) child care;
c.) educational expenses; and
d.) extracurricular activities.

If your Judgement for Dissolution of Marriage or Marital Settlement Agreement specifies payment of certain child related expenses, it is imperative that both custodial and non-custodial parents are well organized. Simply because your divorce is now final, it does not mean that organization of your finances can now take a “back seat.”

Divorce court is flooded with many pending divorce cases, yet judges also deal with a substantial amount of cases relating to post-divorce matters. Oftentimes, these disagreements relate to payment of child support and miscellaneous child related expenses. Challenges come from both parents.

Therefore, it is very helpful to assume a role of an “accountant de facto” following your divorce.

Tips for custodial parents.

For an example, your Marital Settlement Agreement specifies that your former spouse now pays you $500.00 per month, as and for child support, plus your former spouse now must reimburse you for children’s school costs, child care, and extracurricular activities. Following your divorce, if you are receiving payment of child support through the Illinois State Disbursement Unit, this agency will keep an accounting of your child support payments via online access. It’s a wonderful feature. If you are receiving child support by way of a personal check, keep a log of all payments received.

With respect to the miscellaneous child related expenses, organize all of your bills and keep copies of cancelled checks or proofs of payment. Of course, closely follow the terms of your divorce decree. If your settlement agreement requires you to transmit a daycare bill within 14 days of incurring this expense, you must comply; otherwise, you may risk not getting reimbursed because of this violation.

In my experience, most of my clients disagree whether the activity cost was paid or whether the paying spouse received an actual bill or proof of payment. Best way to minimize this disagreement is to set up separate folders in your email so that you adequately keep track of all expenses sent to your former spouse. In the unfortunate event of non-payment, the custodial parent then can easily review all transmittal emails along with bills and proof of payments in a manner of minutes, and not hours or days. Such organization will expedite your case in court or in mediation.

Tips for non-custodial parents.

Let’s take a similar example from above. As the custodial parent above, all non-custodial parents should also keep a track of all payments made. In the event, child support is not paid through the State Disbursement Unit, the non-custodial parent should set up a separate bank account for payment of support. Automated bank transfers ensure timely delivery and a clear record. Of course, never make a support payment via cash as proving cash payments in court is very difficult to do.

With respect to child-related expenses, upon receipt of bill or spouse’s proof of payment (reimbursement), keep all of your records. Non-custodial parents should keep third-party bills (i.e. medical provider, daycare facility, along with copies of cancelled checks. When making payments directly to your former spouse, in the memo line of the check, write down the expense that is being paid.

Tracking all of your cancelled checks via your “child support” bank account will save hours if there is a disagreement.

If you have any other questions, I invite you to contact my office at (312) 981-5060, or reach me by way of email at gregory@ganlawgroup.com.