Illinois Child Support Laws

Financial child support is essential to a child’s stability. Some parents can agree to reasonable support for their children, but sometimes, child support is an adversarial issue.

You may have to fight for what’s right for your child, but where should you start?

You do not have to figure out the details of Illinois child support laws on your own. If you have questions about child support, the Vantage Group Legal Services can help.

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What Are the New Child Support Laws in Illinois in 2022?
The new child support laws in Illinois in 2022 require that the parents purchase or maintain health insurance for the child or children when dealing with a child support matter. This mandate is in effect whenever the parents deal with child support, such as a part of a divorce or a child custody case. The insurance can be public or private, such as through an employer-sponsored program.

How Is Child Support Calculated in Illinois?
As of 2017, the Illinois child support laws use what is known as an Income Shares Model. Most states in the U.S. use the Income Shares Model to calculate child support. The income shares model estimates what the household income would be if the parents resided together. Thus, both parents’ incomes are taken into account.

Essentially, the income shares model calculates child support by:

* Determining each parent’s net income;
* Combining the two net incomes to figure out the combined net income (i.e., what the household income would be if the parents resided together);
* Determining each parent’s percentage of the household income;
* Finding the combined net income and number of shared children on the income shares chart to determine the child support cost; and
* Multiplying that number by the parent’s percentage of the child support obligation.

An easy way to estimate the child support obligation without calculating all of this on your own is through a Child Support Calculator available on the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ website.

RELATED: How Much Is Child Support in Illinois?

The custodial parent is assumed to fulfill the child support obligation because the child lives with them. However, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has a worksheet to help determine if one parent has to pay another parent-child support when there is joint custody.

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A court may depart from the Income Shares Model to calculate child support if using them would be “inequitable, unjust, or inappropriate.” The court will look at the following factors in deciding whether to depart from these guidelines:

* Excessive medical expenses for the child or parent;
* Additional expenses due to a child’s special medical, physical, or developmental needs; or
* Any other factor that is in the best interest of the child.

The law recognizes that, under certain circumstances, the Income Shares Model doesn’t account for the child’s needs or the parent’s abilities. In addition, sometimes, a court may order a parent to pay a higher amount of child support because their income is higher than what is listed on the Income Shares Model. Basically, the court can stray from the Income Shares Model if there is a compelling reason to do so.

Who Pays Child Support?
Who pays child support depends on which parent has primary physical custody of the child. Typically the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent. A non-custodial parent doesn’t have primary physical custody of the child, usually under a court order or parenting plan. However, even a parent with joint, 50/50 split custody may have a child support obligation if each parent’s incomes are significantly different.

How Long Does Child Support Last?
A parent with a child support obligation must pay child support until the child is no longer a child. In Illinois, child support obligations typically end when the child turns 18. However, if the child is still in high school when they turn 18, then the child support obligation lasts until the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever comes first.

If you missed some payments and your child turns 18, you still owe that child support. Just because the child turns 18 does not mean that your past unpaid child support obligations are suddenly gone. You will still owe back child support until you pay it off.

How Can I Get an Order for Child Support?
In Illinois, there are two main ways to get an order of child support. You can go to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services and ask them to get a child support order on behalf of your child. In this case, neither you nor your child is bringing the case. Instead, the State brings the case on behalf of your child.

Another way to get an order for child support is to bring your case in Circuit Court. Although you can represent yourself, the child support laws are complicated. An experienced family attorney can best represent your interests in court.

If you and the child’s parent are divorcing, child support will typically be addressed as a part of the divorce, along with custody. An experienced divorce attorney will be able to advise you as to the child support aspect of your divorce case.

Can I Change a Child Support Order?
Generally, a child support order cannot be modified unless one of the parties can show a substantial change in their circumstances. Examples of a substantial change in circumstances may include the child needing additional support due to a new medical issue or one of the parents experiencing a significant reduction in their income.

If you want to change the child support order, you can’t just stop paying child support. You must make a motion to the court or go to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Then, you’ll have to wait for the court to decide if the circumstances warrant a change of the child support order. Speak with an experienced family law attorney if you’d like to modify your child support order.

What Is Child Support?
Child support is financial support to help care for and raise a child. The issue of child support typically comes up when the child’s parents are no longer residing together. A divorce usually addresses child support, along with things like spousal maintenance, the division of assets, and child custody. Child support can also be addressed in a proceeding on its own when the child’s parents are not married or when they are still married but separated.

Illinois child support laws state that parents owe a duty of support to a child. The duty of support includes reasonable and necessary expenses related to providing for a child’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Reasonable and necessary expenses include:

* Costs associated with a household, such as rent, utilities, and furniture;
* School-related expenses, like books, supplies, uniforms, or tuition;
* Necessities, such as clothes, food, toys, hygiene products, and diapers; and
* Medical expenses, like copays, glasses, dental work, and medication.

The purpose of child support is to provide for the child’s needs. The parent receiving child support should not use it for their own needs or desires.

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