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Illinois Child Support Changes: The "Incoming Sharing" Model

Rolling Meadows Child Support and Divorce Lawyer

When parents divorce or separate, decisions must be made regarding which party the children are going to spend the most time with, as well as who is going to be responsible for paying child support. Recently, the Illinois legislature has decided to change how child support will be calculated, beginning July 2017. Enlisting the help of an attorney can assist you in navigating complex legal processes. Whether you are considering getting a divorce, separating from your partner, or modifying your existing child support order, working with a lawyer who knows the law is imperative.

Current Child Support Calculations

Under the current Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/505), child support is calculated using a fixed percentage of a parent's net income. For example, if one child's parents have shared custody, then the court would likely order 20% of the noncustodial (now nonresidential) net income to be allocated for child support payments. The law also provides for a minimum support expectation that may be modified if compelling evidence is shown.

The current law can be confusing for those attempting to calculate how much they may be required to pay in child support. Net income is often confused with "net pay." The law provides a formula for its calculation that highlights the sources of income that are calculated by the court:

  • Federal income tax
  • State income tax
  • Social Security
  • Mandatory retirement contributions
  • Union dues
  • Individual and dependent health insurance premium
  • Prior obligations of child support
  • Medical expenses
  • Foster care payments

While the new law changes the way that child support is calculated in Illinois, there are only minor alterations to how the courts will calculate income. The new law specifically calls for alimony (or spousal maintenance) to be counted as income for child support calculation purposes.

How the New Law Treats Unemployed Parents

If a parent is willfully unemployed or underemployed, the new law directs courts to use a rebuttable presumption. This allows for the parent's income to be calculated at 75% of the most recent United States Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines.

Custody at the Forefront

One of the biggest changes to the Illinois child support law is the addition of parenting time (previously known as visitation) to the consideration of what will be ordered in child support. Under the current law, child support is ordered based on the custody arrangement (or residential responsibilities) of the parents. For example, if there are two children who both live with their mother primarily, the court will issue a child support order to the father. Under the new law, the court takes a much more flexible approach. Instead of viewing child custody (or the allocation of parental responsibilities) as a zero sum game where one parent has all of the decision-making power and the other does not, the court will now consider how much parenting time each parent is allotted and calculate this factor into the child support order.

Income Sharing Model

For the first time, Illinois is moving towards an "income sharing" child support model. Once the new law takes effect, courts will no longer use set percentages. Support would be determined based on the parent's combined adjusted net income estimated to have been used for the child if the parents and children were living in an intact household. The Illinois Department Healthcare and Family Services is in charge of creating the rules that will give courts exacting child support guidelines. These guidelines will include tables to indicate the percentage of the combined net income that parents living in the same household in this state ordinarily spend on their children.

Modifying Child Support

Life events can change the financial capability of anyone, and parents are no different. A change in employment or a new medical diagnosis are only a few of the life events that can have a serious effect on a parent's finances. To have your existing child support order modified, you must be able to prove:

  • An Increase in the financial needs of the child
  • An increase in income
  • A decrease in income
  • A change in the healthcare needs of the child

Currently, if you are subject to a child support order, you cannot change or modify the order without going to court. Judges are instructed to make decisions regarding modifications that address the best interest of the child; it is not sufficient to simply say my ex got a raise so he or she must pay more. Hiring an experienced child support lawyer can help you present or defend your case.

Child Support Representation in Cook County

If you have children and are considering getting a divorce, make sure you have a dedicated Rolling Meadows child support attorney on your side. The legal process of obtaining or modifying a child support order is not something you want to face alone. Attorney Donald J. Cosley has spent over 20 years pursuing his client's interest and defending their rights. Emotionally charged decisions and inadequate planning can produce an unfavorable outcome. Contact our office at 847-253-3100 to schedule a free consultation.

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