How Long Does Child Support Last? Unfortunately, Not Long Enough

how long does child support last

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

When I was first getting divorced, one of the first questions I asked my attorney was, “How long does child support last?” In the state of Illinois, it lasts until the child is 18, or when he/she graduates from high school. At the time, my kids were 3 and 5 so that seemed like a lifetime away, and I thought, ‘OK, well that’s good.’


What I could not have known back then was what would happen when my kids were in college—specifically that they would be living with me on breaks and over the summers 100% of the time, and that I would be footing the bill for everything because they were over age 18. That’s where I’m at right now.


Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I absolutely LOVE having my kids live with me, and truly, wouldn’t have it any other way. I realize that I’m lucky enough to have them around before they go off and start their own lives, i.e. move out with their friends, get married, have kids, and maybe even move to a different part of the country.


Amanda Campbell, Financial Advisor and Managing Director, Wealthspire


But this article stems from my pent up frustration and resentment that the law did not protect me from the costly lifestyle of living with two college-aged kids full time. With inflation the way it is, I’m going to break down what I estimate spending weekly on 2 kids home from college and living with me:


1. Carry out, even from an inexpensive restaurant, twice a week: $12 per person: $48 per week.
2. Grocery store: $350 per week.
3. One nice dinner: $100 per week.
4. Dunkin’ donut or Starbucks runs: $60 per week.
5. Personal items, clothing, haircuts, etc. sporting events, entertainment, etc.: $50 per week.

Total: $608 per week.

$2432 per month


Now, both of my kids have summer jobs, but I want them saving their money for college expenses, so I pay for most things while they live here. Plus, they tend to spend their earned money on clothing they might need or want, or date nights, things like that.


What I want to know is, why an ex isn’t accountable for child support after the kids graduate high school. Does the state of Illinois assume the kids are going to get these amazing paying jobs after high school and be able to support themselves? It makes no sense to me.


New book from Dr. Mort Orman


My point in sharing this:


Child support should last until the kids are 21. Period.


I find it very unfair and frustrating that I’m on the hook for everything, all while working full time, doing dishes and laundry five times a day, figuring out what’s for dinner every night, cooking meals a few nights a week, and driving and picking up at least one of them daily since we have 2 cars for 3 people. My kids do help out, but they are working, too. I’m just saying, why is this all on me financially, as well? I don’t expect my ex to come over and do our dishes, but contributing to the expenses is another story.

I have had numerous conversations with my him and he is unwilling to offer any kind of financial support. He does give the kids money from time to time, which is nice, but it’s not nearly enough to cover most of the expenses, and when he does give them money, they tend to spend it on other things, not food. (He explains that’s my fault for not telling them to spend it on food.)


I think a lot of ex-spouses who paid child support until the kids were 18 probably had a lot of pent-up hostility. Some might not have thought it was fair or justified, and only paid it because that’s what the law said they had to do.  So, when the kids turned 18, the spouse was relieved and happy that they were done paying, and in their minds, the law is the law and they don’t have to pay a penny. It might even give them satisfaction seeing the other parent struggle.



I find that talking to my ex doesn’t help. I even suggested mediation, and was laughed at.


I am not alone in my situation. I can count dozens of other parents who have shared that they are in a similar situation. One might argue, well, why can’t the kids spend time at their father’s house? This way, he would be responsible for dishes, laundry, meals, etc. Why? Because they don’t choose to do so. You can’t tell an adult (which technically they are adults) that “It’s Dad’s night” or “Dad’s week.” It is their choice and if they choose to live with Mom 7 days a week, they have every right to do so. My poor kids—children of divorce from ages 3 and 5 probably got burned out going from house to house every week when they were young. I can’t say I blame them.


So, if you are a parent who has the kids full time during or after college while they are job searching, I feel you!


“Thanks for the validation, Jackie. That’s nice and all, but what’s the solution?” you might be asking. The solution is, let’s get the law changed.


Lisa Lisser, Divorce and Spiritual Coach, LZL Coaching


I want you to know that I have contacted my state legislature and am in the process of setting up a meeting to pitch the idea of making child support mandatory in Illinois until the age of 21. Of course, if I’m successful in my attempt, by the time the law is passed, my children will be far past the age of 21. But I’m not doing this for me. I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do.


What makes me so angry isn’t the money, it’s the unfairness and inequality of the way things are. Far too often, children spend the bulk or all of the time with one parent, who is expected to pay for everything all the time. It’s time for change. If you are interested in joining me to make this change happen, please email me at

Like this article? Check out, “Going Through an Unfair Divorce?”

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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

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