New Illinois Child Support Law Now in Effect

child support, Arlington Heights family law attorneysIf you currently pay or receive child support in the state of Illinois, you are probably somewhat familiar with how your order was calculated. The payments were most likely determined based on the paying parent’s income and the number of children they were meant to support. Beginning last month, however, Illinois courts must now use a new method for calculating support payments—one that most agree is much more equitable than in the past.

An Outdated Model

For many years, Illinois clung to a child support model that traced its roots back several decades to a time when it was much more common for a household to rely on a single income. When the law was first enacted, a divorce typically left the primary wage-earner—usually the husband and father—responsible for assisting the wife and mother with household finances by way of alimony and child support payments. From that perspective, it is understandable, to an extent, that the calculations should be based on the income generated by the sole breadwinner.

Until last month, however, the law was never really updated to reflect the evolving reality of Illinois families. A large number of households today depend on two incomes just to make ends meet. In some situations, both parents choose to work regardless of the family’s actual need. Thus, a child’s quality of life and standard of living is often established on the basis of two working parents. Following a divorce, both parents would almost certainly continue to work, but only the income of the parent ordered to pay child support was considered in the calculation.

Old vs. New

After many years of debate and lobbying by parents’ groups, the Illinois legislature took action last fall. State lawmakers passed a measure to change the method of a calculating child support to a model used in more than three dozen other states. Under the old model, the court was only required to account for the income of the parent with less parenting time, since he or she would likely be the one paying support. The law provided a scale to be used based on the number of children requiring support, starting at 20 percent of the paying parent’s income for one child and ranging up to 50 percent for six or more children.

The new model—known as “income shares”—took effect on July 1, 2017 and requires the court to take both parents’ income into account when determining child support responsibilities. The court must also consider the amount of time the child spends with each parent. The intention is to come up with a figure that is much more equitable than calculations that were made under the old model.

In an upcoming post, we will look more in-depth at the how the new method works. Meanwhile, if you have questions about child support in Illinois, our experienced Rolling Meadows family law attorneys can help you find the answers. Call 847-253-3100 for a free consultation at Cosley Law Office today.



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