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What Illinois parents need to know about child support

Child support is one of many important decisions in divorce that can greatly affect both your and your child’s life and well-being. As a parent, you may have questions about how child support works in Illinois, so let’s look at some things you may need to know.


In July 2017, Illinois changed how the amount of child support a non-custodial parent should contribute to support his or her minor child is calculated. Prior to this, only the non-custodial parent’s income and the number of children were considered in decisions about child support, but the new law also takes in to account the custodial parent’s income.

Income Shares

Today Illinois family courts use what’s known as the “income shares” model which considers the income of both parents to determine child support amounts. The income sharing provision uses two economic charts to determine child support amounts. The first chart calculates net income for both parents and the second calculates each parent’s share of the total child support amount.

The income sharing model is meant to be a more equitable way of sharing the costs of child support, so the court considers both parents’ income collectively when figuring out child support. However, only one parent will contribute to child support as it is assumed that the custodial parent is contributing his or her share directly to the children.

 

Can the court deviate from child support guidelines?

The court is always looking for what’s in the best interest of the child and will modify a child support order under certain circumstances and with certain minimums and maximums in place, including cases in which a parent has a very low or very high income. Additionally, a support order may be modified in cases where a child has special health or educational needs.

 

Shared parenting

Child support is calculated differently in cases of shared parenting, which is defined as when a child spends at least 146 overnights with a parent. Shared parenting doesn’t cancel out the need for child support, but the time a child spends in the custody of each parent is factored into the equation. In cases where parents share custody, the collective support amount is multiplied by 1.5 (or increased by a factor of 50%). In practical terms, if you are the non-custodial parent, the more time you spend with your child, the less you’ll end up paying in child support (but only in the case of shared parenting).

 

Expenses

Expenses that are taken into account when calculating child support amounts include providing for a child’s basic needs like food, clothing, housing, transportation and medical care. Additionally, other things such as extracurricular activities, private school tuition and child care may also be incorporated.

 

When does the child support obligation end?

Child support ends when a child turns age 18, or 19 if the child is still in high school, or when a child becomes “emancipated” which can occur if a child marries or joins the military.

 

What if one of the parents is unemployed or underemployed?

The courts will look at each situation to discover the reason for the unemployment. If it’s determined that the parent could be working or working more, the court will factor a parent’s “potential income” into their final decision.

 

Child support is a complicated topic and it’s important to educate yourself about the factors that affect how support amounts are determined. While a family law judge ultimately decides what child support amount a parent will pay, the law is there to guide the decisions.

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