This Learn About Law video, attorney Kevin O'flaherty discusses what the definition of 'net income' is and how courts calculate it when determining how much child support is awarded.
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Calculating net income is important when courts determine the amount to be awarded in a child support case. There are many factors the courts take into consideration before making their decision.

In this article, we will explain the definition of "net income" for Illinois child support. We will explain how child support is calculated in Illinois, as well as how courts determine net income for the purpose of calculating child support in Illinois.

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

How is Child Support Calculated in Illinois?

On July 1, 2017, Illinois changed the way child support is calculated by switching to the “income shares” model already in use in many other states.  Any child support obligations from orders entered after that date will be calculated as follows:

  • First, the court determines the total amount of child support for which the parents are collectively responsible using economic guidelines that you can learn more about here: Illinois Child Support Guidelines.
  • Once the court has determined how much child support the parents are jointly responsible for, the court then divides that responsibility among the parents based on each parent’s “net income” relative to one another.  

This means that if you are the payor, the higher your net income, the higher your child support obligation is likely to be.  On the other hand, a higher net income from the recipient tends to reduce the payor’s child support obligation.  

How is “Net Income” Calculated for the Purpose of Illinois Child Support?

Gross income is any money that the party receives from any source.  Net income is the party’s gross income less the following types of income:

  • Federal and state income tax;
  • Social Security payments;
  • Any mandatory retirement contributions that are either legally required or required by an employer;
  • Prior child support obligations;
  • Union dues;
  • Prior spousal maintenance obligations;
  • Health insurance premiums;
  • Money spent to repay debts that are reasonable and necessary to produce income; and
  • Money spent for the reasonable benefit of the child or other parent.

If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court may use potential income rather than actual income in calculating net income for the purpose of child support.  For more on this, check our our article: How is Child Support Calculated When One Parent is Unemployed or Underemployed?

Posted 
November 16, 2020
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