Establishing Child Support In Illinois

In July 2017, Illinois adopted a new approach to calculating child support, called the Income Shares Model. By doing so, our state joined 39 other states which use this method to calculate child support. The goal of the new statute is to recognize the incomes of both, not just one, of the parties in reaching a fair amount for the support of the children.

The amount of child support you pay or are entitled to receive is determined by a formula which considers the net income of each parent and the number of children supported. Navigating these guidelines is not always easy. Recent changes to how child support is calculated can further complicate things.

At Butler Giraudo & Meister, P.C., our family law lawyers make it a priority to stay abreast of changes in the law. Our experience handling family law matters enables us to understand how these changes will impact our clients. If you are facing a situation where you need to establish or modify child support, call our firm to arrange for a consultation. You can reach us in Morton at 309-263-1204 or in Peoria at 309-407-3332. We represent clients in Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford Counties and throughout Central Illinois.

The New Child Support Guidelines In Illinois

For many years, child support was established by applying a formula that established child support as a percentage of the payor’s net income. This model was known as the “percentage of obligor net income” model. Under the new income shares law, each parent’s obligation is calculated, taking into consideration the number of overnights the children spend with each parent.

The Income Shares Model

Instead of using a percentage of the payor’s income, child support is now determined by calculating each parent’s proportionate share of available income to support a child.

The support obligation is established by following this calculation process:

  1. The net income for each parent is determined by using the child support calculator.
  2. The adjusted net incomes are combined to calculate the total income available for support.
  3. Each parent’s percentage of net monthly income is calculated by dividing their individual net monthly income by the combined total net income.
  4. Using the Income Shares Schedule, the basic child support obligation is determined by matching where the combined adjusted net income and the number of children intersect on the chart.
  5. The basic child support obligation amount is then multiplied by each parent’s respective percentage share to establish their support responsibility.
  6. Other costs such as health insurance, child care, extracurricular are factored in to adjust the obligation.
  7. The resulting obligation for the paying parent is the recommended amount of child support.

The amount of child support is further refined in the event each parent has care of the children at least 146 overnights per year. This is referred to as shared physical care, and in this case, the basic child support obligation is multiplied by 1.5 to approximate the portion of child-rearing expenses which are duplicated between the parents’ households in this situation. Each parent’s proportional amount of the shared physical care obligation is multiplied by the percentage of time the other parent spends with the child. The respective child support obligations are offset, with the parent owing more child support paying the difference between the child support amounts to the other parent.

In split physical care situations where each parent has a child the majority of the time, child support amounts payable by each parent are used to offset the other’s amount.

Deviating From Child Support Guidelines

The court can deviate from these guidelines in certain circumstances, including high-income payers. We are a family law firm serving clients in Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford Counties and throughout Central Illinois. We have experience helping parents who may need a deviation from the amount of child support prescribed by the statute.

Modifications Of Child Support In Illinois

Once determined, child support may be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if the payor of child support loses his job or is forced to take a lower-paying job, child support payments may be reduced. If the payor receives a promotion or raise, child support may be recalculated so the children will benefit. Child support generally continues until the children reach age 19 or graduate from high school, whichever occurs first.

College Expenses

Illinois has a separate statute that gives a divorced parent standing to file a petition asking the other parent to contribute to college, vocational school or other post-high school expenses, even though the child has reached adulthood. Generally, the student must attend the college or tech school right after graduating from high school and the cost of the school must be reasonable, considering the household incomes of both parents.

To receive support, the child must be enrolled as a full-time student in good standing and making good progress toward a degree. The child will likely be required to assume some financial responsibility such as applying for financial aid and working in a summer job to help with expenses. Courts will not consider a request for a contribution to college expenses until the child is enrolled so that the actual cost is calculable.

Unlike an award of child support, which is strictly based upon the payor’s income, a college expense order may be based upon the court’s consideration of the entire household income of each parent, including the income of any new spouse.

Schedule A Child Support Consultation

It is critical that you have an attorney who understands the new guidelines, how to apply them. To arrange a consultation with one of our attorneys, call 309-263-1204 (Morton) or 309-407-3332 (Peoria), or complete the contact form on this site.