How is child support calculated and what happens if a parent doesn’t pay?

When a minor-aged child’s parents divorce or split-up, steps must be taken to decide child custody and visitation. In most child custody cases, one parent is deemed to be the custodial parent or the parent with whom the child lives the majority of the time. In order to provide for a child’s basic, education and medical needs; a custodial parent is advised to file for child support.

Illinois’ child support law uses a basic percentage formula for determining child support. Under the statute, a non-custodial parent with one child is required to pay the equivalent of 20 percent of his or her net income in child support payments. The percentage and amount increases depending on the number of dependants involved and maxes out at 50 percent with six or more dependants.

In some cases, family courts in Illinois may choose to deviate from child support statutory guidelines and require a non-custodial parent to pay more or less. Factors that may be taken into consideration in child support cases include a child’s financial needs, the standard of living previously enjoyed by a child and a custodial parent’s financial resources.

In cases where a non-custodial parent fails to abide by the terms of a child support order, he or she may be subject to fines and penalties including wage garnishment, driver’s license revocation and imprisonment. In cases where a non-custodial parent owes $5,000 or fails to make payments for six or more months, he or she may face criminal charges. Additionally, the names, photographs and last known addresses of these so-called “deadbeat parents” may be posted on the Illinois Child Support Services website.

Parents who are dealing with child support issues or disputes are advised to contact an attorney. Every child has the right to receive financial support from both parents and an attorney can help preserve those rights and resolve child support issues.

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