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Jonathan Merel

Child Support in Illinois: The Basics

The payment of child support is governed by Section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Under Illinois law and public policy, all parents have an absolute obligation to support their child, regardless of how much time they spend with the child, whether there is a visitation schedule in place, or whether they were ever married to the child’s other parent. Typically, when a child resides with one parent more than fifty percent if the time, the other parent (non-custodial parent) is required to pay child support in Illinois.

Section 505 of the IMDMA sets forth certain guidelines for calculating the amount of the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation. Pursuant to Section 505, the following are minimum guidelines for child support:

1 child 20% of net income

2 children 28% of net income

3 children 32% of net income

4 children 40% of net income

5 children 45% of net income

6 or more children 50% of net income

The theory behind child support is that it pays for the child’s necessary and fixed living expenses, such as housing, food, clothing, and other day-to-day expenses, and that it helps maintain the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if his or her parents were still living together.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when calculating child support is the definition of net income. Pursuant to Section 505, net income is defined as the total of all income from all sources, minus several standard deductions. The deductions allowed under the Illinois child support statute are: federal income tax, state income tax, social security withholding, mandatory retirement contributions required by law or as a condition of employment, union dues, dependent and individual health insurance premiums, prior obligations of support or maintenance (paid pursuant to a court order), expenditures for repayment of debts that represent reasonable and necessary expenses for the production of income, medical expenditures necessary to preserve life or health, and reasonable expenditures for the benefit of the child and the other parent. Voluntary deductions such as elective contributions towards a retirement plan are not allowable as a deduction from a payor’s income in determining net income for child support purposes.

In most cases, basic discovery of the paying parent’s assets and income must be conducted before a proper child support figure is determined. This is because net income includes not only basic wages from employment, but also income derived from stocks, bonds and other securities, regular cash gifts, cash income, unemployment compensation, worker’s compensation awards, as well as other actual income generated by the paying parent. One common and narrow exception to the net income requirement is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Pursuant to federal law, SSI payments are sheltered and exempt from being considered as net income for child support purposes. Additionally, the paying parent is entitled to certain deductions that fall under the umbrella of the deductions listed above. These calculations are all determined on a case-by-case basis.

At The Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., we excel in helping our clients obtain favorable and appropriate child support payment arrangements. Child support is calculated on a case-by-case basis and is based upon specific income and income-related information, and we have the experience and resources necessary to ensure that our clients receive or pay the appropriate amount of child support.

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