Can I use child support to pay my utility bill?

The cost of raising a child in Illinois can be fairly high. Managing those costs after divorce can be particularly difficult, which is why child support is so important. However, what child support covers is not always clear, and confusion over how it is supposed to be used can lead to unnecessary conflict.

In general, child support should help cover a child’s basic necessities. These necessities are food, clothing and shelter. A parent could use support to purchase groceries and snacks or to purchase new clothing for a child. Since costs associated with shelter encompass more than just the mortgage or rent, child support can also be used for utility bills and other related bills.

Support usually helps address medical costs too, particularly if the recipient is the parent who provides health insurance coverage through his or her job. But even with health insurance, many people in Illinois are still stuck with out of pocket expenses, which can be considerable. Child support can pay for things like glasses, braces, casts or other non-covered medical expenses.

Illinois parents might also use child support for childcare, education and extracurricular activities. These costs often factor into support orders alongside basic necessities. Taking all of these various costs into account — and not just a child’s basic needs — helps paint an accurate picture of a child’s financial needs. It is not uncommon for parents to disagree on these costs though, so it may be helpful to speak with a knowledgeable attorney before embarking on this process.

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