In this article we will provide a comprehensive overview of Illinois child support law in 2019. We answer many frequently asked questions including: how is Illinois child support calculated in 2019?, when can Illinois child support orders be modified?, and how is child support calculated if one parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed?
Last year, Illinois changed the way that child support is calculated by adopting the “income shares” model of child support. According to the income shares model, courts determine the amount of child support for which the parents are collectively responsible using economic tables that take into account the combined income of the parents, the cost of living, and the number of children involved.
Once the combined amount of child support for which the parents are responsible is determined, each parent’s share of this amount is determined based on the parents’ relative incomes. Generally, the more the obligor parent makes in income compared to the the obligee parent, the more child support the obligor will be required to pay. To learn more about how Illinois child support is calculated under the “income shares model,” check out our article: Changes to Illinois Child Support Laws for 2017.
If each of the parents is responsible for the child for at least 146 overnight stays per year, Illinois law considers this a “shared parenting situation.” Illinois child support is calculated differently in “shared parenting situations” than in non-shared parenting situations. In shared-parenting situations, the total amount of child support for which the parents are responsible is increased by a factor of 50% and the amount of time each parent spends with the child is factored into the calculation of each parent’s obligation. In shared-parenting situations, the more time the obligor parent spends with the child, the less he or she will be required to pay in child support.
The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has several tools on its website that you can use to estimate the amount of child support you will owe or to which you will be entitled, including:
For a full discussion of what these resources are and how to use them, check out our article: Illinois Child Support Guidelines.
Illinois courts are required to follow the child support guidelines put forward by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services unless the court finds that deviating from the guidelines would be in the “best interest of the child.” In order to determine whether deviation from the guidelines would be in the best interest of the child, courts weigh the following factors:
Illinois child support orders can only be modified if the party seeking to modify the order can show:
The passage of the 2017 law changing how child support obligations are calculated does not constitute a basis for modifying a child support order entered under the previous guidelines. However, if one of the three bases for child support modification can be established, the court will use the current law to determine the child support obligation going forward, even if the original order applied the previous law.
Child support obligations that have already become due and owing cannot be modified even if one of the above bases for modification can be shown.
To learn more about what qualifies as a “substantial change in circumstances” and how to file a petition to modify child support in Illinois, check out our article: Illinois Child Support Modification Explained.
In determining each party’s income for the purpose of determining child support obligations, Illinois courts will consider a parent’s potential income if the parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. In these cases, the other party will offer evidence of the party’s potential earning capacity were he or she to seek full employment.
As we discussed above, the amount that a parent must pay in child support is based on the relative incomes of the parents, but what if one of the parents has an income has income that varies from month to month based on bonuses, commission or overtime? If one parent has varying income, there are three methods that Illinois courts may use to determine the parent’s income for the purposes of child support:
You can learn more about each of these methods by checking out our article: How is Illinois Child Support Calculated for Overtime, Bonuses & Varying Income?
In order to understand how one parent’s payment or receipt of spousal maintenance (otherwise known as alimony) impacts child support obligations, it is important to remember that the amount of child support required in Illinois is based on the parties’ incomes relative to one another. So with that baseline knowledge, here’s how maintenance affects child support in Illinois:
For more, check out our article: How do Maintenance Payments Affect Child Support Obligations in Illinois?
If a child support obligor has obligations to multiple families, the rule is that any prior child support orders will reduce the obligor’s “net income” for the purpose of calculating any subsequent orders. This means that the order in which the child support orders were entered is important. The obligor will have more income, and therefore be required to pay more in child support for earlier orders than for later orders.
To learn more about how child support works for multiple families, check out our article: How is Child Support Calculated for Multiple Families in Illinois?
The general rule is that child support is required until the child either turns 18 or graduates high school. However, Illinois courts have discretion to award child support after the child turns 18 or graduates high school. One common reason for doing so is to provide for the child’s college expenses.
When seeking child support for adult children, the burden is on the party seeking the child support to prove that child support is appropriate. If the court finds the child support to be appropriate, the amount of child support that each parent will be required to contribute is determined based on the relative income of the parties.
To learn more about the factors that courts review in determining whether adult child support is appropriate, check out our article: Illinois Child Support and College Expenses.
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act prohibits multiple child support orders to be entered in different states. Child support orders may only be modified by courts in the state in which they were originally entered so long as one of the parents continues to live in that state. However, a foreign state may enforce another state’s order, so long as the state has personal jurisdiction over the obligor. To learn more about how personal jurisdiction is established, check out our article: How to Determine Child Support Jurisdiction.
Child support orders may be enforced administratively through the Illinois Department of Child Support Services, or via a contempt proceeding in court, or both. For more, check out our article: How to Enforce Child Support in Illinois.