Parent with custody may have to pay child support

When most people think of child support, they think of a parent who doesn’t have custody paying money to the parent who has custody to help meet the child’s needs.

But a recent case in Illinois shows that child support can work the other way around as well.

When Steven and Iris Turk divorced, he earned about $150,000 a year and she earned less than $10,000 a year. Iris got custody of their two children, and Steven was ordered to pay child support.

Seven years later, Steven was given custody of the children, but was ordered to keep paying child support because his income was much higher than Iris’s.

Steven complained, but the Illinois Supreme Court sided with Iris, and said ordering a parent with custody to pay child support could make sense in some circumstances.

The point of child support is to provide for the needs the children, the court said. If a parent who doesn’t have custody nevertheless has a great deal of visitation, but can’t afford to care for the children during visitation periods, then the needs of the children aren’t being met, and the wealthier parent can be ordered to help out.