Child Support The Legal Guidance You Need and the Personal Attention You Deserve

Chicago Child Support Attorneys

Fighting for Your Rights & Your Child’s Best Interests

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.

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 arrangements. 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.

Contact us online or call (312) 487-2795 now if you need a child support lawyer in Chicago. We can help you obtain, modify, or enforce a child support order.

When Is Child Support Required in Illinois?

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.

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. In these cases, the custodial parent may work with the Child Support Enforcement Division to enforce the child support order.

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.

How Child Support Is Calculated in Illinois

Illinois laws on child support 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.

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

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

Understanding the Definition of "Net Income"

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:

  • 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.

Call Now for Your Free 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 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 FREE 20-minute consultation. We serve clients throughout Chicagoland.

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