Illinois Child Support Guidelines: How is child support calculated?

Understanding Illinois Child Support Guidelines

In Illinois, child support is a legal obligation that non-custodial parents contribute to the financial well-being of their children. The guidelines for calculating child support are outlined in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and are designed to ensure that children receive a fair amount of support from both parents. This article delves into the intricacies of how child support is calculated in Illinois, providing clarity for those navigating this aspect of family law.

Determining the Base Amount of Child Support

The first step in calculating child support in Illinois is to determine each parent's net income. Net income is calculated by subtracting certain specified deductions from a parent's total income, such as taxes and other child support or spousal maintenance obligations. Once net incomes are determined, the combined amount is used to find the appropriate figure on the Illinois child support table, which provides guideline percentages for different levels of combined parental income and number of children.

Income Shares Model

Illinois uses an 'Income Shares Model' to calculate child support. This approach considers the combined net income of both parents and aims to allocate child support proportionally based on each parent's contribution to the combined income. The premise is that children should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would have if the parents were still together.

Additional Considerations

Beyond basic calculations, additional expenses such as health care, education, childcare, and extracurricular activities can be factored into the child support amount. These are typically divided between the parents in proportion to their respective incomes.

Modification and Enforcement

Child support orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances. Enforcement actions may be taken if a parent fails to meet their child support obligations, potentially including wage garnishment, seizure of property, or even criminal charges.

Example Calculation

To illustrate how child support might be calculated: Consider Parent A with a net monthly income of $3000 and Parent B with a net monthly income of $2000. Their combined net monthly income is $5000. According to Illinois guidelines, if they have two children, a certain percentage (say 28%) would apply to this combined income for child support purposes—amounting to $1400. If Parent A's income represents 60% of the combined total, they would be responsible for 60% of the $1400 ($840), while Parent B would cover the remaining 40% ($560).

Historical Context

Illinois' shift to the Income Shares Model in July 2017 marked a significant change from the previous flat percentage model, reflecting modern views on parenting responsibilities and financial equity. The new model aligns with federal guidelines and is seen as more equitable because it accounts for both parents' incomes and time spent with the child.