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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article we will answer the question, “is child support taken out of unemployment benefits in Illinois?”, including: “how is child support calculated in Illinois?” and “what happens to child support payments if one of the parents becomes unemployed?”

Federal law requires each state to have a department or division dedicated to child support services to ensure the well-being of all children. In Illinois, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has a Division of Child Support Services, or DCSS. The DCSS helps both custodial parents and non-custodial parents, or the parent obligated to pay child support, to ensure the proper management of child support.

How is Child Support Calculated in Illinois?

In Illinois, child support is calculated by using economic guidelines to determine the total amount that the parents are both collectively responsible for paying toward the child’s care.  Then, the share of that amount that each parent is personally responsible is determined based on the parents’ “net incomes” relative to one another.  For more on child support in Illinois generally, check out our article: Illinois Child Support 2019.  

What Happens to Child Support Obligations if One Parent is Unemployed?

how does unemployment affect child support?

If one parent becomes involuntarily unemployed, the court will use his or her reduced income to calculate child support, meaning that an obligor’s child support payments will be reduced commensurate with his or her lower income.  If a parent becomes voluntarily unemployed, the court will use his or her potential income to determine the amount of child support payments.  Meaning, that the court will look at how much he or she could be making based on education level and experience in order to determine the amount of the child support obligation.  For more on this, check out our article: How is Illinois Child Support Calculated When One Parent is Unemployed or Underemployed?

It is important to note that child support obligations do not automatically change when a parent’s employment situation changes.  In order to modify child support obligations in these circumstances, one of the parents must file a motion to modify child support with the court.  For more on this, check out our article: Illinois Child Support Modification Explained.

Will Child Support be Taken Out of Unemployment Payments in Illinois?

As discussed above, the amount of an obligor’s child support obligation depends on the net income of each parent.  “Net income” is defined as income from all sources (“gross income”) minus certain specific types of income and expenses.  For a detailed description of the types of income and expenses that are deducted from gross income to arrive at net income, you can read our article: What is the Definition of Net Income for Illinois Child Support?  

It is sufficient for our purposes to say that unemployment benefits are not deducted from gross income when calculating net income.  Unemployment benefits therefore count toward an obligor’s net income.   This means that although child support obligations may be modified if the obligor becomes involuntarily unemployed so as to reduce the amount of child support payments, the income received from unemployment benefits will still be used to pay child support.  

If the obligor files for unemployment insurance benefits (UIB) in Illinois, the Department of Healthcare and family services can have child support payments deducted from those benefits. It is important to note, however, that the Department can deduct child support payments from UIB only if the custodial parent, or obligee, has a child support case with the DCSS.

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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