Social Security Dependent Benefits and Child Support
In a case of first impression before the Appellate Court of Illinois, a marital settlement agreement requiring the respondent to pay 32% of his net income for guideline child support of three minor children was found unconscionable. In re Marriage of Ruth Mitter, 2015 IL App (1st) 142695. The husband challenged the settlement agreement arguing the trial court erred in denying him a credit of Social Security Retirement dependent benefits of $1,083 a month toward the child support payments. The court agreed with the husband that the benefits were earned and should be considered part of his overall child support obligation and the case reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
Here the court relied on the Illinois supreme court’s rationale in In re Marriage of Henry, 622 N.E. 2d 803 (1993) where it was determined that payment of Social Security disability dependent benefits satisfied the parent’s child support obligation. The Henry court reasoned that eligibility for Social Security benefits and the amount of such benefits was based on the earnings record of the primary beneficiary, and thus dependent disability benefits were generated by the noncustodial parent through his labor and earnings.
Henry also noted that the source and the purpose of Social Security Dependent benefits are identical to the source and purpose of child support—both come from a noncustodial parent’s wages or assets and both provide for the needs of the dependent child. Thus, because “Social Security Dependent disability benefits are earned by the noncustodial parent, made on behalf of such parent, and, in fact, paid at least in part with contributions from the non-custodial parent’s own earnings, payment of Social Security Dependent disability benefits satisfies a noncustodial parent’s child support obligation.” Henry, 622 N.E. 2d, 809.