Modifying Illinois Child Support Orders

Illinois child support orders can always be modified. Both custodial and non-custodial parents can request the amount be increased or decreased so long as they can show a "substantial change in circumstances" justifying their formal request. While courts consider a number of factors before issuing a child support order, everything ultimately comes back to the best interest of the child(ren) and the non-custodial parties' ability to pay.

Following changes to the Illinois child support law that went into effect in July 2017, child support in Illinois is calculated by determining the amount of money required to care for a couple's children based on the parents' combined income. Each parent's contribution toward this amount will be determined based on their individual net incomes, as well as the amount of parenting time each parent has with their children.

The ordered amount must be paid. Nevertheless, a non-custodial parent may ask an Illinois court to reduce his or her payment amount as long as they can show a "substantial change in circumstances" to justify the request. The change could be a recent disability, the loss of a job or any other new situation (since the last order was made) that makes the current order financially unfair. Payment should never be reduced unless and until the court orders a modification.

A custodial parent may request an increase in payment from the non-custodial parent, but the same "substantial change in circumstances" standard applies. The custodial parent must be able to show that the substantial change (such as the non-custodial parent getting a raise or a bonus, the child becoming disabled or simply having increased financial need) makes the current support order unfair to the child.

In either situation, the party asking for a modification of the previous order must file a Petition to Modify Child Support with the court. The court will generally schedule a hearing for the party that filed the petition to present evidence showing the claimed substantial change and the other party to argue for the current order to stay in place. The court will make a decision after considering the totality of the circumstances on both sides.

Though the process sounds simple in theory, it can be complicated and involve a significant amount of money. If you are either seeking additional child support or fighting against an increase, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your situation and your options.

  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Northwest Suburban Bar Association

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