Understanding the Illinois Child Support Review Process
In Illinois, child support is a legal obligation mandated by the courts to ensure that children receive financial support from their non-custodial parent. This financial contribution is crucial for covering a wide array of the child's expenses, from basic needs to educational costs. However, circumstances change, and the state recognizes the need to periodically review child support orders to ensure they remain fair and reflective of current situations.
Frequency of Child Support Reviews
Under Illinois law, child support orders can be reviewed every three years or when a significant change in circumstances occurs. These changes may include a substantial shift in either parent's income, changes in the needs of the child, or alterations in custody arrangements. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services' Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) oversees these reviews.
For example, if a non-custodial parent receives a significant pay raise or loses their job, either party can request a review of the child support order. Similarly, if the child develops special needs or incurs new educational expenses, this could also trigger a review.
The Review Process
The review process begins with a formal request by either parent or by DCSS if it's time for a triennial review. Once a request is submitted, DCSS will evaluate both parents' current financial information against the Illinois child support guidelines. These guidelines take into account factors such as each parent's income and the amount of time each parent spends with the child.
If there is reason to believe that the child support amount would change by at least 20% or $10 per month, whichever is greater, due to updated calculations, DCSS will proceed with modifying the order.
Historical References and Examples
Historically, Illinois has evolved its approach to child support to align with modern family structures and financial realities. Prior to 2017, child support was calculated based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent's income. However, in July 2017, Illinois shifted to an 'income shares' model that considers both parents' incomes. This change aimed at ensuring a more equitable distribution of financial responsibilities.
In practice, consider a father who initially was ordered to pay $600 per month based on his income at the time of divorce. If he later loses his job or experiences an involuntary salary reduction, he could request a review. If upon review it's found that his income has decreased substantially, his child support obligation could be reduced accordingly.
The Illinois Child Support Review Process exists to maintain fairness and adequacy in support arrangements over time. Whether adjustments are made every three years during routine reviews or in response to significant changes in circumstances, this process ensures that support orders stay aligned with parents' current financial capabilities and children's needs.
For more detailed information about Illinois' child support laws and review process, you can visit the official website of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services here.