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Child Support Basics in Illinois

Posted on in Divorce

Illinois child supportDivorcing your spouse can be difficult. Divorcing your spouse when you have children together can be exponentially more difficult. Separating parents must consider the effects the process may have on their children and how life may be different post-divorce. Arrangements for custody, visitation, and support of the children need to be negotiated and sometimes litigated. While custody and visitation agreements may differ greatly due the circumstances unique to each family, Illinois law provides a guideline that courts are expected to follow when deciding and calculating child support.

Who Pays Support?

Under Illinois law, the court may require one or both parents "to pay an amount reasonable and necessary for the support of the child, without regard to marital misconduct." The law allows for the possibility that the child may reside with someone other than a parent after the divorce, but, in practice, the court will typically require the non-residential or non-custodial parent to pay child support.

How Much Should Be Paid?

Illinois is one of only a few remaining states to use a child support model based on simple percentages rather than a sliding scale. A parent obliged to pay support can expect the requirement to be a specified percentage of his or her net income, depending on the number of children being supported. The court is expected to utilize the following to determine the support requirement:

  • 1 child - 20 percent of supporting parent's net income;
  • 2 children - 28 percent;
  • 3 children - 32 percent;
  • 4 children - 40 percent;
  • 5 children - 45 percent; and
  • 6 children or more - 50 percent.

In addition to establishing the amount of support to be paid, the court may also require one or both parents to contribute toward medical expenses, child care, schooling, and extra-curricular activities.

Is There Any Flexibility?

The court is required to use the legislated formula in every case in order to establish, at the very minimum, what the support obligation should be. However, at the court’s discretion, consideration may be given to the financial needs and resources of the child and both parents, the lifestyle established during the marriage, and the physical, mental, emotional, and educational needs of the child. If the court finds that, based on these considerations, deviation from the standard formula is necessary, a finding may be entered clarifying what the standard obligation would have been and specifically why the change was appropriate.

 Will These Rules Ever Change?

The model upon which Illinois bases child support laws is considered by many to be outdated. In fact, the state’s Child Support Advisory Committee has recommended a change to what they believe is a more equitable model. The committee proposed an "income shares" method of calculating support which starts with the burden of support shared between the parents equally, to be adjusted based on mechanisms in place to account for each parent’s income and resources. Support obligations are also affected by the amount of "parenting" time each parent spends with their children.  As the income shares model is currently being utilized by dozens of other states, the committee is hopeful their recommendation will be enacted by the Illinois legislature in the near future.

Who Can Help?

When you need legal advice or assistance understanding how the support laws in Illinois will affect your family, you can turn to an experienced Arlington Heights family law attorney. Contact the offices of A. Traub & Associates today for a consultation.

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