Child support in Illinois
According to a 2018 United States Census Bureau survey, 6.6% of marriages in Illinois end in divorce. Many of the marriages that come to an end in divorce are experienced by parents with children. When a marriage ends in divorce, the parents must agree on custody whether it be sole custody or joint custody. Regardless of the custody order, in Illinois one parent must pay child support to the other.
In Illinois, parents are responsible to take care of their children. This is even true when parents get divorced and children do not live full-time with one of the parents. The parent with custody of the child is known as the custodial parent. The custodial parent is the individual with the majority of contact hours with the child. The non-custodial parent is the parent with fewer contact hours with the child. It is the non-custodial parent’s responsibility to pay child support to the custodial parent.
Illinois courts assume that the custodial parent also pays child support. However, these payments are made throughout the month on the care of the child, rather than in a lump sum once a month.
Illinois child support calculator
Illinois child support is calculated on a percentage based on the income shares model. The model was introduced in July 2017 and updated the way in which parents in Illinois pay child support. The update made it clear that both parents are responsible for raising their child/children. Parents must share this responsibility and it is not up to just one parent to raise the child financially.
The income shares model used by the state of Illinois takes both parents’ incomes into account. The model also takes into account the amount the parents typically spend on their children had they remained together.
How to calculate Illinois child support
Illinois child support is calculated by adding both parents’ net incomes together. The final total should consider all incomes whether earned or unearned. Child support guidelines identify certain deductions that can be made to the net income. The most common examples of income earned by parents are wages, salary, commissions, investment income, and self-employment earnings.
Federal and state income taxes, retirement contributions, union dues, health insurance premiums, and social security taxes are all deductions parents can make on their incomes. Other deductions include expenses necessary to produce income, medical expenses necessary for life or health, and any reasonable amounts already paid for the benefit of the child or the custodial parent, not including gifts.
Once these calculations are made, parents can add their net incomes together to find their combined adjusted net income. Illinois updates its income conversion chart yearly and parents can find the basic support they are obligated to provide from the chart.
After calculating the basic support that must be paid by the parents, they must consider the income shares schedule. The amount of time the child spends with each parent plays a factor in how much money is paid in support.
Parents are obliged to pay Illinois child support
It is unfortunate, but not all parents are willing to pay child support to the custodial parent. In some cases, parents may even work jobs they are overqualified for just to make less money. Even if non-custodial parents are unemployed, they are obligated to pay Illinois child support.
Illinois courts will investigate a parent’s employment if it is believed the individual is underemployed or working fewer hours than they should, the courts can take action. Courts may impute a parent’s income. An imputed income is often based on the parent’s most recent or previous job, local job opportunities, education, and training.
Can Illinois child support be modified?
Parents often seek to modify the amount of money they paid or receive in child support. For a parent to modify the child support order, a parent must prove to the court that there is a significant change in circumstances that warrant the change.
If a significant change in circumstances cannot be shown, parents may be able to prove:
- There is a difference of at least 20% between the current child support order and a new calculation based on the guidelines.
- The child’s health care needs are affected and the non-custodial parent should provide financially for the child’s medical care.
When does child support in Illinois end?
Child support in Illinois ends when the child turns 18-years old. However, there are certain circumstances in which a non-custodial parent must still provide financial support to their child after the age of 18. A child attending high school full-time after the age of 18 must still be supported financially through child support. In this case, the non-custodial parent must continue to pay until the child turns 19-years old or graduates from high school.
Child support responsibilities may continue if the child is unable to support themself or is disabled. Courts may order a non-custodial parent to contribute to a child’s college expenses. This obligation can be instituted even if the child is over 19.
What if parents do not pay child support?
Parents may ignore their responsibilities of paying child support. Custodial parents should rest assured that non-custodial parents can be punished if they do not keep up their responsibilities. A parent that fails to pay child support on a regular basis will be ordered to appear in court. If the parent does not turn up for the child support hearing, the judge will issue a warrant for their arrest. Non-custodial parents can face time in jail by not paying child support.
Illinois child support enforcement
There are specific ways in which Illinois child support can be enforced. These include:
- Wage garnishment – Unpaid child support will automatically be taken from a non-custodial parent’s income.
- Interception of tax refunds – A parent who doesn’t pay their child support and has a tax refund coming to them, will have it intercepted and given to the custodial parent.
- Property liens – If a non-custodial parent’s non-paid child support reaches $3,500 or more, the state will put a lien on the individual’s property and assets.
- Suspended or restricted license – A person that is 90 days late in child support can have their licenses suspended or restricted.
Illinois child support law after 2020
Back in 2017, Illinois switched over to the income shares model of child support. And this is the most recent major change in Illinois child support law, adopting to the income shares model. The court will use economic tables to calculate the total amount of child support that the parents collectively will have to dedicate towards their child. And these economic tables determine this amount based on the combined income of the parents, the cost of living where the parents live and the number of children involved.
Once you have the total amount of child support that the parents are collectively responsible for, each parents share of that amount is calculated based on the relative income of the parties. So if you are the person who’s paying the child support, the more you make relative to the recipient, the more you’re likely to pay in child support.
On the flip side, if you’re the recipient and you make a lot of money relative to the payer, you’re going to receive less in child support. Basically the Courts decide a pool of money that is going to go towards the child between the two parents. And then you divide that pool based on the relative incomes of the parents. This changes a little bit in shared parenting situations. A shared parenting situation occurs when each parent has the child for at least 146 overnight’s per year.
Illinois child support 50 / 50 custody
The amount of time each parent spends with the child is factored in to the child support calculation. So, in addition to relative income, the more time you spend with your child, the less you will be paying in child support.
When you run the numbers in a 50 / 50 shared parenting situation, it’s difficult to tell off the top of your head whether it’s going to be an increase or decrease in child support. You really have to run the numbers and the amount of time you spend with the child to determine what the what the upshot will be of a shared parenting situation.
When Illinois Courts don’t follow the rules
Illinois courts can deviate from the guidelines when it comes to child support if they believe that deviation from the guidelines would be in the best interests of the child.
Illinois child support obligations for teenage parents
Teenage parents have the same rights and responsibilities with respect to their children as adult parents. They have a constitutional right to the care and custody of their children, and they’re expected to pay child support. If a minor is unable to pay child support due to limited or nonexistent income, then it’s possible that the minors, parents or legal guardians may be held responsible for paying child support in the state of Illinois.
When do Grandparents pay child support in Illinois?
Grandparents may be liable for child support in the following circumstances:
- teenage parents are getting benefits
- both teenage parents are enrolled in high school
- both parents are at either high school program
- if the teenagers live under under adult supervision
Temporary child support Illinois
The purpose a temporary child support order in Illinois is to provide for the needs of the requesting party until a final hearing can be held. In order to get temporary spousal maintenance or temporary child support, you have to file a motion accompanied by a financial affidavit that states your income and expenses and other financial information. The motion will be accompanied by documentary evidence that supports the facts that you’re stating in the motion, such as tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. These are generally decided without a hearing. So it’s called a summary decision.
Retroactive Illinois child support
When Illinois child support is ordered, the person paying the child support has to pay in future months. However, retroactive child support is asking the payer to make up for previous months or years in addition to future months.
In a divorce case, child support is only paid going forward. There’s very little retroactive child support because the theory is that during the course of the marriage, the father or mother or whoever is paying the child support was actively supporting the child. So there’s very little need to go back in time and and make up for past child support.
So retroactive child support really comes into play in paternity cases where the paternity of a father needs to be established. And then the mother is asking for years of child support from before the paternity case started. The general rule is that the date child support starts is the date that the father and the paternity case was served with papers to establish the father child relationship. However, in an Illinois child support case the courts can go further back in time.
How far back can retroactive child support go in Illinois?
Illinois retroactive child support can go back years if the Court decides. The Illinois courts usually base their retroactive time on the following factors:
- the father’s prior knowledge of the child
- the previous interaction between the parties
- the father’s willingness to pay
- the father’s refusal to pay
- the fathers involvement in the child’s life before the papers were served