Whenever a celebrity’s child support amount is announced in the news, the child support always seems absurdly high. Kelly Clarkson pays her ex-husband $ 45,601 in child support. Nick Cannon pays $2.2 million dollars a year to the mothers of his nine children.

Celebrities do not live in Illinois. So, celebrities are not a useful guide to what the actual upper limits of child support are in Illinois. What is the cap on child support in Illinois?

How Is Child Support Calculated In Illinois?

“The court shall determine child support in each case by applying the child support guidelines” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(2)

In Illinois, child support “guidelines” are determined via an “Income Shares Method.” This method estimates what amount of money parents with their respective incomes and time with the child will spend on the child.

“The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services shall adopt rules establishing child support guidelines which include worksheets to aid in the calculation of the child support obligations and a schedule of basic child support obligations that reflects the percentage of combined net income that parents living in the same household in this State ordinarily spend on their child.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(1)

With both parents’ net incomes and the income shares schedule, child support can be calculated.

“The court shall compute the basic child support obligation by taking the following steps:(A) determine each parent’s monthly net income;(B) add the parents’ monthly net incomes together to determine the combined monthly net income of the parents;(C) select the corresponding appropriate amount from the schedule of basic child support obligations based on the parties’ combined monthly net income and number of children of the parties; and(D) calculate each parent’s percentage share of the basic child support obligation.” 750 ILCS 5/505(A)(1.5)

What Is The Maximum Child Support That Can Be Paid In Illinois

On the current 2022 Income Shares Schedule Based On Net Income, there is a maximum net income for both parties available: $ 30,024.99. That is $ 360,299.88 a year as the maximum net income for both parents to determine child support based on the income shares schedule. Anything beyond $ 30,024.99 a month, the income shares schedule does NOT provide a corresponding child support amount.

That maximum income is a net amount after taxes. What is the gross income for a net income of $ 360,299.98? At that net income, every person’s tax burden is different based on their income sources and investments. Simply refer to your tax return (but don’t include depreciation).

At that maximum net income amount as set forth by the Illinois income shares schedule, the basic child support obligation per the Illinois income shares schedule is $2241 for one child, $3289 for two children, $3821 for three children, $3268 for four children, $ 4693 for five children and $ 5103 for six children.

How Does The Maximum Child Support Get Reduced In Illinois

The highest numbers in the Illinois Income Shares Schedule are still not the maximum child support amounts per the guidelines.

The parents still must “calculate each parent’s percentage share of the basic child support obligation.” 750 ILCS 5/505(A)(1.5)

The percentage share of the basic child support obligation is determined by percentage share of each parent’s income.

If each parent is making $ 180,149.88 (50% of 360,299.98) then the non-custodial parent will only be responsible for 50% of the basic child support obligation. So, the maximum child support for one child if the parents have equal incomes is $1120.50 ($2241.50)

If there has been a divorce, one parent is likely to get maintenance. The maintenance received will be calculated as part of the maintenance receiving parent’s income.

“”Net income” includes maintenance not includable in the gross taxable income of the payee for federal income tax purposes under a court order in the pending proceedings or any other proceedings and shall be included in the payee’s net income for purposes of calculating the parent’s child support obligation.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3)(B)

If the non-custodial parent is paying 50% of the child support obligation, shouldn’t the custodial parent have to pay the non-custodial parent something for the time the non-custodial parent has the kids? No.

“Although a monetary obligation is computed for each parent as child support, the receiving parent’s share is not payable to the other parent and is presumed to be spent directly on the child.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(1.5)

If, however, each parent exercises 146 nights of visitation a year (that’s over 40% of the year), the child support amount drops dramatically…because the child support paying parent now gets to offset their obligation by what the other parent should be contributing. (Note: this is tough to follow)

If each parent exercises 146 or more overnights per year with the child, the basic child support obligation is multiplied by 1.5 to calculate the shared care child support obligation. The court shall determine each parent’s share of the shared care child support obligation based on the parent’s percentage share of combined net income. The child support obligation is then computed for each parent by multiplying that parent’s portion of the shared care support obligation by the percentage of time the child spends with the other parent. The respective child support obligations are then offset, with the parent owing more child support paying the difference between the child support amounts.” 750 ILCS 5/505

If you managed to understand the above, you will see that maximum child support is a fraction of what it could be if the non-custodial parent has more than 40% of the overnights.

Child support is further reduced if the payor is also paying for health insurance and child care.

“The amount to be added to the basic child support obligation shall be the actual amount of the total health insurance premium that is attributable to the child who is the subject of the order.”

“After the health insurance premium for the child is added to the basic child support obligation and allocated between the parents in proportion to their respective incomes for child support purposes, if the obligor is paying the premium, the amount calculated for the obligee’s share of the health insurance premium for the child shall be deducted from the obligor’s share of the total child support obligation.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(4)(D)

If the child support receiver is paying for health insurance for the child, then the child support will increase as a percentage of the parties’ incomes. “If the obligee is paying for private health insurance for the child, the child support obligation shall be increased by the obligor’s share of the premium payment. The obligor’s and obligee’s portion of health insurance costs shall appear in the support order.”750 ILCS 5/505(a)(4)(E)

Likewise, child care expenses can be included in the child support amount if the court so orders.

“The court, in its discretion, in addition to the basic child support obligation, may order either or both parents owing a duty of support to the child to contribute to the reasonable child care expenses of the child.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3.7)

“Child care expenses shall be prorated in proportion to each parent’s percentage share of combined net income, and may be added to the basic child support obligation if not paid directly by each parent to the provider of child care services.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3.7)(B)

Therefore, a high-earning non-custodial parent who pays the child’s health insurance and daycare may find themselves with little to no child support obligation.

How Is Child Support Actually Handled For The Very Wealthy

So, if the maximum child support obligation is just a few thousand dollars, why are Kelly Clarkson and Nick Cannon paying so much? Because the wealthy do not really use these guidelines child support amounts.

Guidelines child support is the default.

“There is a rebuttable presumption in any judicial or administrative proceeding for child support that the amount of the child support obligation that would result from the application of the child support guidelines is the correct amount of child support.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3.3)

You need evidence that the guidelines are an inappropriate way to calculate child support in Illinois.

“This presumption [of the sufficiency of the child support guidelines] cannot be negated unless compelling evidence shows reason for the deviation.” In re Marriage of Demattia, 706 NE 2d 67 – Ill: Appellate Court, 4th Dist. 1999

Making more than $ 360,299.98 a year net is pretty compelling evidence that this is NOT a guidelines child support case.

“The court may deviate from the child support guidelines if the application would be inequitable, unjust, or inappropriate. Any deviation from the guidelines shall be accompanied by written findings by the court specifying the reasons for the deviation and the presumed amount under the child support guidelines without a deviation. These reasons may include:

(A) extraordinary medical expenditures necessary to preserve the life or health of a party or a child of either or both of the parties;

(B) additional expenses incurred for a child subject to the child support order who has special medical, physical, or developmental needs; and

(C) any other factor the court determines should be applied upon a finding that the application of the child support guidelines would be inappropriate, after considering the best interest of the child.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3.5)

“[T]he court [can] make[] a finding that application of the guidelines would be inappropriate, after considering the best interests of the child and evidence which shows relevant factors including, but not limited to, one or more of the following:

(A) the financial resources and needs of the child;

(B) the financial resources and needs of the parents;

(C) the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage or civil union not been dissolved; and

(D) the physical and emotional condition of the child and his or her educational needs.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(2)

The court should consider all of these factors in determining what a non-guidelines child support award should be…and explain how the court considered those factors in writing.

“Any deviation from the guidelines shall be accompanied by written findings by the court specifying the reasons for the deviation and the presumed amount under the child support guidelines without a deviation.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3.5)

If the basis for deviating from guidelines child support is simply the high income of the party or parties, then the child support obligation shall not be lower than what the maximum Illinois income shares support schedule would deem it to be at $360,299.98 net.

“A court may use its discretion to determine child support if the combined adjusted net income of the parties exceeds the highest level of the schedule of basic child support obligation, except that the basic child support obligation shall not be less than the highest level of combined net income set forth in the schedule of basic child support obligation.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3.5)

If you or your child’s other parent are making more than $ 400,000 together, you are going to need to understand how child support works for people at your income levels. In fact, most of Illinois divorce and family law is not going to apply at your income levels. Contact my Chicago, Illinois family law office today to speak with an experienced Illinois family law attorney.