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How is Child Support Calculated for Multiple Families in Illinois?

Article written by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
November 1, 2019

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 that should be 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.  

In July 1, 2017, Illinois law changed to an "income shares" model of child support.  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," as opposed to "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 that is deducted from gross income to arrive at the net income figure for the purpose of determining child support is any prior obligation of child support or maintenance actually 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.  If you are seeking child support from a parent who has a pre-existing child support obligation to another family, that parent's net income will be reduced by the amount of the previous child support obligation.  

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 is order to pay 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 ot 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 his or her 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 states will still give priority to 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.

Maria 12/4/2016 08:39:50 am

My husband receives VA disability and SSD here in Florida (I'm unemployed). We have a child and another one on the way. His ex and daughter live in Illinois. His daughter will receive a SSD check. He wants to notify the court about it and he will pay the difference of what it's owed to the court. She wants to do a revision to get the child support increased. She earns more than he does (but that won't come effective until July 2017). The court doesn't know he has another child and another on the way. Will the court take our children in consideration for the revision? Because if they don't we won't be able to afford our new baby.

Kevin O'Flaherty 12/4/2016 02:05:21 pm

Thanks so much for your question, Maria. I updated our article on Changes to Illinois Child Support Law for 2017 with an in-depth answer to your question, which you can read here: brief version of the answer is that, under both the current Illinois child support law and the new law that will be effective on July 1, 2017, the court has discretion to deviate from the guidelines if the court finds an application of the guidelines to be inappropriate in light of the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child are determined by weighing several factors, including the financial resources and the needs of the custodial parent. Your husband's children from your marriage, which were not contemplated in the original child support order, would constitute a "substantial change of circumstances" which would likely allow your husband to request a modification of the existing child support order. Whether the court is likely to exercise its discretion to deviate from the child support guidelines is something that you should discuss with an attorney who can review your specific situation against relevant case law precedent in order to give you an estimate of expected outcomes. Please do not hesitate to call us at (630)324-6666 for a more specific answer to this question. We are happy to help. Please also feel free to reply to this comment with any further questions.

Reply Jules 4/13/2017 08:56:39 pm

My bff has issues with her ex baby daddy (no marriage): refusal to pay mandated court order child support, taking child out of state without permission, or notification, parenting issue like calling his daughter a whore (because she wore shorts). :( She's 9. Yes, it really happened and more. And has drug (cocaine) issues. But anyway, he is currently married with children. After all of this and sooooo much more, she finally took him to court and after over one year of constant continuances by he and his lawyer, (& her lawyer having personal issues) he was finally ordered to pay back child support of over $10,000 because he lied on support filed papers and was actually making a lot more (and had been for years! ) than he said he was, plus the back support he failed to pay because he just refused, and of course they increased his monthly child support after that. His wife said to her while leaving the courthouse, "yeah, enjoy it while you can "b----", it's not going to last long. That was ~ November, 2016 She is now pregnant with twins! So they've told her "she can kiss her money good bye" because they will now have two more to feed. Oh and they're demanding the mutual child stay with them over the summer and they are not going to pay any child support (which was brought up in mediation--refused by the mom and they know it, the final decree papers give him regular visits, not all summer). Their twins will give them 4 children in their household (not including the mutual child), all will be under age of 8 years, his spouse does not work. They have a house, 4 cars (all with car payments). So I'm sure they can show a lot of debt. The child's mom (my bff) makes a lot less than him, works two jobs (one full, the other, part time) to try and make ends meet. She just bought a house for them so she has that bill plus one car payment and daycare. With all of that explained, she is terribly frightened. She just spent all of this money on an attorney to finally get him to pay something and to get him to act appropriately and now this. Is it true, that now (after the July1, 2017 new law) he can claim the twins against what he's been ordered to pay, and knew his responsibility before they chose to get pregnant again. And I'm not even going to say whether the dad's wife said that they did this on purpose, just to decrease the support. And we're not talking a ton of money here, either. I just don't get it.(I say, "I don't get it" in regards to his response to the child support-- because he's still refusing to pay some if the court mandated expenses-- and I guess to this very scarey and confusing new law because for my bff every penny counts, and to this law because it has the potential for devistating results.) And to think, they co-parented together just fine (financially and parenting) until he remarried. :-(And this mom, yes, she's my bff but all of that aside, she's a really good and decent person and has tried so hard with these two people. It's rather sickening, this whole thing. And the money spent to get it taken care of in the first place, OMG! Anyway... I know this is a long and convoluted description (be glad you don't have to live it) however, fair question or not, I'm asking anyway, do you have any thoughts or advice? She'd take speculation and any hope at this point. Her stress levels are off the chart! Thanks so much! Oh! And her lawyer? Yeah, she says she'll go back to court against him but she has to pay 4K this time! Or she offered to file the motion in court fir $75 and then my bff was on her own. Even though (it's my understanding) it "should" be quick, one time appearance & on an already judgement decreed case. %-( OMG!Jules

Reply Thomas marable 5/10/2017 03:39:06 pm

Under the new law will my children be entitled to the same monetary benefits even though the father is already paying child support for 2 other children

Reply Kevin O'Flaherty 5/11/2017 01:27:11 pm

Thanks so much for the question, Thomas. Under both the new child support law and the previous law, a key factor in determining the amount of the child support obligation is the obligor's "net income." Amounts that are paid pursuant to a prior child support order serve to reduce the "net income" of the obligor. This means that if the father is paying child support to a different mother for other children, your children are not likely to receive the same monetary benefits as if that prior child support order were not already in place. I hope this answers your question. Please let me know if you have any follow up questions. Disclaimer: This post is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to constitute legal advice. Before taking any action, I recommend consulting with an attorney at our firm or at another firm of your choice. Feel free to call us at (630)324-6666 for a free consultation.

David jones 9/13/2017 10:44:06 pm

If i am married with a family of 5, is that obligation taken into consideration if another baby mama files for child support?For instance, i have 1 child with her and i have a family where i fully support my wife and other 3 children.

Kevin O'Flaherty 10/2/2017 12:03:31 pm

Thanks for your question, David. In this context, only prior court-ordered child support orders serve to reduce your net income for the purpose of calculating your child support obligation. So, in your situation, the fact that you have 3 other children will not reduce your child support obligation. Disclaimer: This post is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to constitute legal advice. Before taking any action, I recommend consulting with an attorney at our firm or at another firm of your choice. Feel free to call us at (630)324-6666 for a free consultation.

Aaron Tobin 9/18/2017 04:01:03 pm

I live in Jefferson County Illinois and I have a court date Sept.27.i had a lawyer up until 2 weeks ago because he has done nothing for me and tells me that they dont take my two kids I have now with my immediate family now when it comes time for calculating child support.Also when it comes to figuring child support they dont take into consideration my health insurancve premiums that come out every week.I have a boyh that is 18 yrs old and has his pwn job and has had it for awhile.Do they add his income in with the custodials parent income also or does his income not count.I may sound like I'm trying to get out of paying but NO.I just have a ex wife that doesnt want to work full time and work as a watress and hide her money so I pay the difference.I have another boy thats 14 but the 18 yr old Im talking about graduates high school next year.Do I have any ground to stand on in this situation.Could you please answer the questions Ive sat forth.Thank you for your time.

Kevin O'Flaherty 10/2/2017 12:05:27 pm

Thanks for your question, Aaron. Unfortunately, I can't give you answers regarding the specifics of your situation without being retained as your attorney. Feel free to call our office at (630)324-6666 for a free consultation.

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