How Is Child Support Calculated In Illinois

When parents get divorced or separated, their obligations towards their children do not end with the marriage. Both parents, the mother and the father, are legally required to look after their children. Most states have specific rules about how to calculate child support.

Parents can negotiate and enter into agreements without the guidance of the court. However, they still need to get the agreement approved by the court. The court makes sure the child support agreement meets its legal requirements and is fair to the child.

Child support payments ensure the child’s quality of life remains unaffected after the divorce. Therefore, the court is strict about its enforcement. In fact, a person who ignores the terms of the agreement can face imprisonment.

What Is Child Support?

Child support is ongoing, periodic payments made by one parent to the other after their divorce to ensure their child has whatever they need. In most cases, these payments are made by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent, but cases may vary. Child support will vary depending on where you live, how much you earn, and your child’s needs.

Child support payments are to be made irrespective of sex. This means that a mother has the same duty towards their child as a father. In cases with joint custody, the higher-earning parent is supposed to pay the lower-earning parent. Therefore, who pays child support depends on their individual income rather than their sex.

How Is Child Support Calculated In Illinois?

Previously, Illinois courts used a “percentage-based” formula, which is no longer in use. In July 2017, they introduced an income shares model. The idea of this new law is that both parents are responsible for making financial contributions for their children. The “income shares model” considers both parents income and how much they would be spending on their children if they were still married.

To simplify, here are the steps involved in calculating child support.

  1. Determine each parent’s net income.
  2. Combine both parents’ net income.
  3. Determine the percentage of net income contributed by each parent in the combined net income.
  4. The income shares model comes into play. The combined net income is plugged into the state’s “income shares schedule” to determine the basic child support obligation.
  5. Multiply the number from step 4 with the percentages from step 3 to determine each parent’s financial obligation.
  6. The numbers you get are the child support obligations of each parent.

The resulting amount for the non-paying parent, typically the one who lives with the child for the majority of the time, is assumed to be already applied to the child. On the other hand, the paying parent is required to make the payments on time to the non-paying parent.

Factors That Influence Child Support Payments

No matter the circumstances, child support payments are still decided in the child’s best interest. Sometimes, the Illinois court might deviate from the state’s minimum requirements if it meets the child’s needs. There are certain factors that influence the amount of child support.

  • The financial needs of the child/children.
  • The financial responsibilities of both the parents.
  • The prevailing financial conditions of the parents.
  • The standard of living the child had during their parents’ marriage.
  • The physical, emotional, and educational needs of the children.
  • The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if their parents were still married.

If the child has any other special needs, the court will also consider them. For example, if the child is disabled and requires constant assistance, the cost of in-home care would be added to the amount. Further, the court also looks at these expenses:

  • Health care
  • Daycare
  • Education
  • Extracurricular activities

What Happens to Child Support Payments If the Payer Loses Their Job?

It is possible to modify a child support order if the payer loses their job. The most important element in the modification of child support is the changed circumstances of the payer. The court will agree to lower the amount if there is evidence of “good faith.” This means that you must show that you left the job in good faith rather than to get rid of your financial obligation.

If you voluntarily leave your job and take up a lower-paying one, your petition will likely get rejected. Similarly, if you get terminated by your employer for misconduct, the judge won’t accept your request for modification. The Lake County law firm of Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg, LLC can assist you with your child support needs and questions. Call our office to schedule a complimentary consultation.


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