Recent Changes to Illinois Law: Joint Custody and the Income Shares Model of Child Support

Illinois Child Support in Shared Parenting Situations | Joint Custody and Child Support

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article, we will explain how child support works in shared parenting situations (formerly known as “joint custody”) in Illinois.  We will explain Illinois child support law prior to 2017 and how the law changed in 2017 when Illinois adopted the “income shares” model of child support.  We will explain the definition of a shared parenting situation and how Illinois child support is calculated differently in shared parenting situations.   

Recent Changes to Illinois Law: Joint Custody and the Income Shares Model of Child Support

When both parents spend relatively equal time with the child, this used to be referred to as joint custody, until 2016 when Illinois began referring to these scenarios as “shared parenting time.”  To learn more about how Illinois courts allocate parenting time and responsibility since 2016, check out our article, Allocation of Parenting Time and Responsibility Explained.

Another change to Illinois law occurred in July of 2017, when Illinois adopted the “income shares” model for child support.  Under the previous law, child support was based on a fixed percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income.  The only factor the courts used in determining this percentage was the number of children involved.  For more on how Illinois child support worked prior to 2017, check out our article: Illinois Child Support Explained.

9: Can you get child support if you have joint custody in Illinois?

The Illinois Income Shares Model of Child Support Explained.

Under the new income shares model of child support, the court determines how much child support the parents should collectively be responsible for based on economic tables.  Then, the portion of that amount that each parent will be personally responsible for is determined based on the parents’ incomes relative to one another.  The big difference from previous law is that the income of the person receiving child support is now taken into account.  For a detailed explanation of the current state of Illinois Child Support Law, check out: Illinois Child Support 2019.

So now that you understand the baseline of how child support works under the income shares model, let’s discuss how it operates differently in shared parenting situations, which we used to refer to as “joint custody.”

What is a Shared Parenting Situation for Illinois Child Support?

A “shared parenting situation” occurs when each parent spends at least 146 overnights per year with the children.  

How is Illinois Child Support Treated Differently in Shared Parenting Situations?

We explained above that under current Illinois child support law the first step in determining the amount of an obligor’s child support payment is to use economic tables to calculate the total amount of child support for which the parents are collectively responsible.  In a shared parenting situation this amount is increased by a factor of 50%.

An additional difference in shared parenting child support calculations is that the amount of time each parent spends with the child is taken into account in addition to relative incomes.  This means that if you are the obligor in a shared parenting situation the more time you spend with your child the less you will have to pay in child support.  The rationale for this is that the parent actually spending time with the child is the one typically paying out of pocket during that time for the child’s needs.  In situations that are not shared parenting, the amount of time spent with the child is irrelevant to the child support calculation.  

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The Illinois Income Shares Model of Child Support Explained.

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