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Kevin O'Flaherty

One of our readers commented on our article about changes to Illinois child support laws that went into effect on July 1, 2017, with the following question:

How is child support calculated if the father has child support obligations to multiple families? What if one of the children is in a different state?

According to Illinois child support law, courts are provided with guidelines for the percentage of the non-custodial parent's net income awarded as child support each month, based on the number of children of the particular parents involved. You can read more about the current law here. 

On July 1, 2017, Illinois law changed to an "income shares" child support model. According to the new law, courts use economic tables to determine a baseline level of child support for which both parents will be responsible. Each parent's share of this responsibility will be based on their relative net incomes. You can read about the new law in more detail here. 

The key to understanding how child support is calculated when the non-custodial parent has multiple child support obligations to multiple families is that the non-custodial parent's child support obligation is based on "net income" instead of "gross income." Net income is calculated by deducting certain expenses from gross income, such as income tax and health insurance premiums. 

One of the items deducted from gross income to arrive at the net income figure to determine child support is any prior obligation of child support or maintenance paid pursuant to a court order.  

This means that if a person has multiple child support obligations, the timeline of when each child support order was entered by the court is very important. Suppose you seek child support from a parent who has a pre-existing child support obligation to another family. In that case, that parent's net income will be reduced by the amount of the previous child support obligation. 

man using calculator to calculate child support

For example, if Peter Parker is ordered to pay 20% of his net income of $100,000.00 to support his child with Gwen Stacy, his annual child support obligation to Gwen will be $20,000.00. If, in the next year, Peter pays 20% of his net income to his child with Mary Jane, his net income will have been reduced from $100,000.00 to $80,000.00 by Gwen's child support order. Even though both orders require him to pay 20% of his net income, Peter will only be required to pay $16,000.00 per year to Mary Jane, as opposed to the $20,000.00 per year he is paying to Gwen, because Gwen's order came first. 

When the new law goes into effect in July of 2017, the non-custodial parent's child support obligation will be based on their net income relative to the custodial parent. The effect of a previous child support obligation will be to reduce the non-custodial parent's net income by the amount of that obligation, thereby reducing that parent's responsibility for the total amount of child support. 

If the non-custodial parent has families in multiple states, each state's particular laws would determine how much will be awarded for child support for the family residing in that state. However, each state will still prioritize earlier out-of-state child support obligations when determining net income.  

For an overview of Illinois child support law, check out our article: Illinois Child Support 2019.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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