Children deserve to receive financial support from both of their parents, whether a mother and father are married, unmarried, or divorced. In order to help unmarried or divorced parents share the costs of raising a child, a court may order one parent to make child support payments to the other. In Illinois, child support is calculated using the “Income Shares” method, which takes both parents’ financial circumstances into consideration. If a parent fails to fulfill his or her child support obligations, he or she can face serious civil and even criminal consequences. Child support orders may be modified later if one of the parents experiences a “substantial change in circumstances” that necessitates the change.
The “Income Shares” Model for Calculating Child Support
Before major changes were made to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) in 2017, child support was determined using a simple percentage of the paying parent’s income. For example, if a parent had two children with an ex-spouse, he or she would pay a monthly child support payment that was 28 percent of his or her monthly take-home income. Currently, however, Illinois uses a different model to calculate child support. This calculation method takes both parents’ net incomes, as well as the amount of parenting time each parent has, into consideration in order to arrive at an amount that is fair and reasonable.
To calculate the amount of child support payments, each parent’s net income is established by taking their gross income and subtracting certain deductions, such as taxes, health insurance premiums, mandatory retirement contributions, and previous child support or spousal support obligations. Next, the total amount of money needed to support the child is determined based on the amount parents who earn that combined income would typically spend to support the number of children they share. Finally, this cost is split proportionally between the parents based on their net incomes. The parent who has the majority of parenting time will typically be the recipient of child support, and the other parent will be the payor.
If the parents each have their child stay with them for at least 146 overnights per year, they are in what is called a shared parenting or joint custody arrangement. In these arrangements, additional calculations will need to be made to divide the amount of the child support obligations between the parents, again based on the percentage of parenting time children spend with each parent.
Modifying a Child Support Order
Child support orders are eligible for a modification review every three years. If a parent wishes to change the child support order before three years has passed, under Illinois law he or she must show that a “substantial change in circumstances” necessitates the modification. Examples of a “substantial change in circumstances” that may cause the court to change a child support order include:
- The payor parent loses his or her job;
- Either parent experiences a major increase or decrease in income;
- There has been a major change in the allocation of parental responsibility or parenting time;
- The child’s needs have changed substantially.
Contact a Hillside Child Support Lawyer
In Illinois, child support payments are calculated using each parent’s net income, and the amount of parenting time each parent will have may also play a role in these calculations. If you want to establish child support, enforce or modify your existing child support order, or address other child-related issues, contact the Law Office of Vincent C. Machroli, P.C. for help. Call our office today at 708-449-7404 and schedule a free consultation to discuss your goals with an experienced Oak Park family law attorney.