On July 1, Illinois will adopt a new model to calculate child support. For parents who already have a divorce or parentage case pending, or are simply contemplating separation or divorce from the child’s other parent, it is important to be informed about how the new law works. Here are a few main takeaways:
It will significantly change how child support is calculated in Illinois
Currently, child support is calculated by utilizing a formula that is based solely on the non-custodial parent’s income. The new law, however, takes on an “income shares” model which is based on the concept that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income that he or she would have received if the parents remained together by utilizing a calculation that includes published data on child rearing costs and both parties’ incomes. The income shares approach to child support has gained momentum in the United States in the past few decades and in fact, a majority of states in the U.S. have already adopted this model.
There are three main characteristics of the “income shares” model
Basic Child Support Obligation – Under the new law, a court must “calculate child support based upon the parents’ combined adjusted net income estimated to have been allocated to the child if the parents and children were living in an intact household.” Additionally, there are predetermined child support payment amounts to be utilized based upon the parties’ combined net incomes. A schedule reflecting average child-rearing expenditures will be published by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services for this purpose. In addition, IDHFS has published other helpful resources on its website including the Gross to Net Income Conversion Table and a Child Support Estimator.
Shared Parenting – The new law allows adjustments to child support for “shared parenting” situations, which means situations where each parent has the child for at least 146 overnights per year. For this situation, basic child support is multiplied by 1.5 to account for additional basic costs to care for the child, including but not limited to: additional transportation, housing and food between the two residences. Then, both parties’ net incomes and the parenting time allocated to each parent is taken into account before determining the final child support obligation.
Additional Expenses – These are considered “additional” support amounts on top of the basic child support obligation. These can include amounts to cover the costs of extracurricular activities expenses, medical/health care expenses, education expenses and child care costs. If the parties cannot agree on an allocation of these expenses, a court has the discretion to order one or both parties to contribute to these items.
Deviation may be warranted under the new law
There may be circumstances in a particular case that would warrant a deviation from the child support amount that is calculated under the new income shares model. This is where having a skilled litigator could mean a notable difference in the amount of support that is received or that is paid.
The new formula will be used to modify a child support order entered under the older law
For parents that already have a child support order in place, these rules may still be relevant if family or financial circumstances change and the child support order needs to modified. All child support modifications that occur after July 1, 2017 will be recalculated under the new formula if the court finds that a modification is warranted. A child support order under the old law cannot, however, be modified by only citing the new law as the reason for modification.
The new law goes into effect July 1
This is the first time in 30 years any major changes have been made regarding child support in Illinois. As the new law is vastly different than the old law and requires more steps and calculations to determine a child support obligation, it is important to be represented by an attorney who is well versed in the new law and comfortable with performing interrelated calculations.
Contact Jennifer Guimond-Quigley for a free consultation regarding how the new child support law in Illinois may affect you.