Do I have to pay child support if we co-parent?

Do parents who share parenting need to pay child support? Here's what you need to know.

Dealing with a divorce is tricky at any age. Whether you were married for decades or just a few years, you and your partner will have to separate your assets and divide your lives, but you'll also have to co-parent your children. The way that your family functions and communicates may change after a divorce, but one thing is for certain: your kids should come first. Many parents are concerned about the financial and emotional changes that may accompany a divorce, especially in regards to the well-being of their child. This is one of the reasons that child support payments may come into play during your divorce.

Child support is designed to ensure that your kids don't suffer during the divorce. When a couple separates, financial situations often change drastically. Child support payments help protect the child or children involved in a divorce from feeling that impact. These payments should help ensure that the child's lifestyle stays relatively stable. For example, if a child takes dance lessons prior to the divorce, child support payments can ensure that they are still able to continue with those lessons. Additionally, child support may be used to provide clothing and housing for the child.

Typically, child support is paid to the parent with whom the child primarily resides; however, sometimes parents choose to share parenting time after a separation. There are many different ways that parents can share time with their children. If you and your partner equally care for your child, will you still be expected to pay child support?

The short answer is "it depends." When you and your partner separate, you'll talk with a judge about parenting time. During this discussion, your child may have a chance to express their opinion as to where they live. In some cases, it's beneficial for the child to live with each parent equally. In other cases, the child may primarily reside with one parent, but have parenting time with the other. Sometimes, the child may live with one parent, but both parents will share in the legal responsibilities for the child. For example, both parents may have a say in where the child goes to school or what religion the child practices.

If you and your partner both have similar financial situations and contribute equally to the care of your child, you may not be required to pay or receive child support; however, if one of you makes significantly less than the other, child support payments may be court-ordered. This will help protect your child or children and ensure that they can receive the same care and lifestyle benefits regardless of which parent they're staying with.

If you have questions about your current parenting plan or want to know more about child support in Illinois, reach out to your attorney today. Your lawyer will discuss parenting plans, parenting time, and parenting payment options with you and can help you to better understand your rights as a parent.