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Time allocation looms large in the new child support law

Within the legislation's effort to modernize the child support agreement that accompanies a divorce decree, some people wonder if there is a downside concerning time allocation.

This concern is mostly directed toward shared parenting time, the parents’ net income factor and the amount of money each will have to pay toward child support.

The 2016 child custody law

To better understand how the new child support law works, you may want to revisit the January 1, 2016, child custody law and its “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Here you have a law stating that if a child resides with one parent for at least 146 nights a year, the court may employ the “shared care child support obligation.” The court will then calculate the percentage of time the noncustodial parent spends with the child to determine the amount of this parent’s child support obligation.

Fast-forward to 2017

A new statute for child support using an “income shares” concept at work in dozens of other states became effective in Illinois on July 1, 2017. The purpose is to make child support more equitable for parents. The new model looks at the costs of raising a child in a pre-divorce family environment, and compares this with the current net income levels of both parents. The court takes into account the child-rearing costs involved with housing, food and clothing for the child, as well as medical expenses, education, extracurricular activities and entertainment.

Parenting time and child support

The more time a parent spends with the child, the less he or she may have to pay in child support, thus the interest in time allocation. Some attorneys and other professionals who deal with child support matters see the possibility that a noncustodial parent may try to get to that 146-hour threshold so as to have less of a monetary support obligation. This, in fact, may become more important than spending quality time with the child, which should be the focus of shared parenting time. Because changes in legislation often include many variables that affect the unique circumstances of families, many people reach out to an attorney experienced with family law for clarification.

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