More Fairness + More Complexity = New Illinois Child Support Law

Following the massive overhaul of Illinois divorce and family law that became effective last year, additional changes have been made that will alter how child support obligations are calculated in the state. If you pay or receive child support, you may be able to modify the established amounts after the law becomes effective on July 1, 2017.

Hard Percentages Replaced By “Income Shared” Approach

Currently, the calculation of child support in Illinois is based on a pretty simple formula. A hard percentage of the non-custodial parent’s net income is used to determine the amount that he or she has to pay, with that percentage going up for each additional child who needs support.

But when parents divide parenting time more or less equally, and a child spends significant time staying with the “non-custodial” parent, putting all of the support obligations on that parent, or not taking into account the income of the other parent, doesn’t make much sense.

Many other states recognized this reality and changed their child support laws as part of the same alterations Illinois adopted last year, when terms like “custody” and “visitation” were replaced with “allocation of parenting time” and “allocation of parental responsibilities.”

Now, child support will be “allocated” between the parents just as time and responsibilities are. Specifically, the old percentage formula has been replaced by what is called an “income shared” approach under which each parent is designated a portion of child support obligations depending on how much they financially contributed to the overall household income when the marriage was still intact. It also takes into consideration the amount of time the child spends with each parent pursuant to the agreed-upon or court-ordered parenting plan that is now part of every Illinois divorce involving children.

How the New Child Support Law Works

Starting July 1, child support will be calculated by:

  • calculating each parent’s net income, then
  • combining net incomes to determine Total Family Income, then
  • using a chart contained in the new law to determine the Basic Child Support Obligation, then
  • allocating the Basic Child Support Obligation proportionally based on net incomes.

But there’s more. If each parent exercises 146 or more overnights per year with the child, called “shared parenting, the Basic Child Support Obligation is then multiplied by 1.5 to calculate the shared care child support obligation. Then, using the percentage of time the child spends with the other parent, child support is calculated from one parent to the other. Then, the two amounts are netted out.

Seem confusing? It is. While the new law may result in more equitable child support arrangements, it also will also result in more complexity in determining what those arrangements will be. A seasoned Illinois child support lawyer can help you navigate these changes to the law and advise you of your rights and options.

Louis R. Fine – Chicago Child Support Attorney

If you have questions about child support and how the changes to Illinois may affect you and your children, please give me a call at (312) 236-2433 or fill out my online form to arrange for a consultation. When we meet, we can go through all of your questions, and I will be there to listen to you as well as advise you. Together, we will turn the page so you can begin the next chapter of your life with clarity and confidence.