Under Illinois child support 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.
At the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., our Chicago child support lawyers are skilled litigators and negotiators who excel in securing appropriate child support in Chicago. Our team is led by our esteemed partners Jonathan Merel, Melissa Caballero, Aurelija Fitzpatrick, David Zwaska, and Bradley R. Kaye. We have the experience and resources necessary to protect the best interests of our clients, whether they are paying or receiving child support, so we encourage you to find out how we can assist you.
Typically, when a child resides with one parent more than 50 percent of the time, the other parent (the non-custodial parent) is required to pay child support in Illinois – which serves as a contribution toward the costs associated with raising the child.
How Child Support Is Calculated in Illinois
Illinois child support laws establish guidelines for determining the monthly amount to be paid from one parent – typically the party having less parenting time with the child(ren) to the other. Guideline child support takes into consideration the net incomes of both parents, the number of children of the parties, as well as the number of overnights each parent has with the children.
In special circumstances, such as cases involving at least one high income-earning parent or a child with special needs, the court may deviate from the statutory guidelines or the parties may agree to set child support at an amount above or below the guideline support amounts. These guidelines are contained in Section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.
Illinois Child Support Guidelines (750 ILCS 5/505)
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 in Illinois:
- 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
How Is Net Income Calculated for Child Support in Chicago?
According to Illinois child support laws, child support in Chicago is primarily calculated based on the net income of the payor, which is calculated by taking the payor’s gross income (before taxes) and subtracting any deductions as specified in the statute.
Deductions typically include:
- Income taxes
- Social Security and Medicare taxes
- Health insurance premiums
- Mandatory retirement contributions
Determining child support in Illinois can become complicated when it is more difficult to ascertain the income of the payor, such as in cases where the payor owns his own business, works on commission, or does not receive a steady, consistent salary from year to year.
When determining child support in Illinois, a court is required to calculate child support award on the income the payor receives from all sources. Rental income, investment income, and capital gains can all be assumed as income in determining child support in Illinois. Furthermore, a court may, in special circumstances, decide to deviate above or below the guideline support child support amount; but this is not typically commonplace.
What Does Child Support Cover in Illinois?
Child support is meant to maintain the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if his or her parents were still living together. Therefore, child support in Illinois pays for necessary and fixed living expenses, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Other day-to-day expenses
A child support lawyer in Chicago can help you protect your rights under Illinois child support laws, whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent in a child support case.
Understanding the Definition of "Net Income"
One of the most important things to keep in mind when calculating child support in Illinois 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 Illinois child support laws are:
- State and federal 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
- Reasonable expenditures for the benefit of the child and the other parent
An important distinction to keep in mind is that 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.
The Role of Discovery in Child Support Cases
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 not only includes basic wages, but also income derived from stocks, bonds and other securities, cash gifts and income, unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation awards, and other actual income.
One common exception 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.
Illinois State Disbursement Unit (ILSDU)
The Illinois State Disbursement Unit (ILSDU) is the state processing center for all Illinois child support payments.
The ILSDU issues checks or direct deposits to the parent receiving the child support payments by automatically taking it from the non-custodial parent’s account each month. The accounts are most commonly paychecks for W2 employees or checking accounts for small business owners. Since the money is automatically taken out before the non-custodial parent receives his or her paycheck, there is no discrepancy in the amount or late ILSDU payments.
If you have any questions as to what jurisdiction your county falls under, please consult a Chicago child support attorney.
Modify Child Support in Chicago
When someone who is obligated to pay child support can no longer comply with the court order, they should take steps to modify the existing order as soon as possible. In Illinois, a party can petition for modification of child support if they have experienced a "significant change of circumstance," either to the child's needs, the supporting parent's income, or the custodial parent's income.
Examples of a "significant change of circumstance" include:
- Involuntary job loss or reduction in income of the supporting parent
- Increased needs of the child
- Increased income of the custodial parent
In Illinois, child support can be reviewed for modifications every three (3) years. Conversely, if a custodial parent is not receiving child support as ordered by a court, they should pursue enforcement of the order.
Enforce Child Support in Chicago
In some cases, the supporting parent may refuse to pay or continuously fail to pay child support to the custodial parent. Failure to remain current with a child support obligation can result in serious consequences for the non-paying party. Consequences of non-payment of child support may include a finding of contempt ("contempt of court") and penalties, which can include incarceration and payment of the other party’s attorney’s fees.
In these cases, the custodial parent may work with the Child Support Enforcement Division to enforce the child support order. Depending upon what county you live in, child support enforcement is either handled through the Attorney General’s Office or the State’s Attorney’s Office. Cook County, DuPage County, DeKalb County, Kane County, and Lake County are all handled by the State’s Attorney’s Office.
Illinois Child Support Arrears
The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Division of Child Support Enforcement has the statutory authority to disclose information about parents who owe $5,000 or more in past-due child support accumulated under an Illinois court or an administrative support order pursuant to Section 12-12.1 of the Illinois Public Aid Code (305 ILCS 5/12-12.1).
Don’t end up on the Illinois deadbeats list. Paying child support payments on time and in the correct amount is the best way to avoid this issue. If you're struggling to make payments, speak with a child support attorney in Chicago right away.
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Call Now for Your Phone Consultation: (312) 487-2795
At the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., our Chicago child support attorneys have the knowledge and experience you want on your side if you are dealing with a complicated child support or divorce matter.
We routinely work with clients to determine the proper child support amount, assess a party’s ability to pay support, modify an existing child support obligation by increasing or reducing the support amount, and present evidence to a court in support of a deviation from the statutory child support guidelines. We have also successfully represented countless clients in both the pursuit of and defense against claims for unpaid child support.
Give us a call today at (312) 487-2795 for your 20-minute consultation. Our Chicago child support lawyers serve clients throughout Chicagoland.
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