Many Believe Illinois Child Support Model Needs Updated

As a society, there are certain values that unite most Americans, regardless of their political leaning or affiliations. Among these is the culture’s focus and care regarding the well-being of children. Every child should have the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong with the love and support of both parents, whether the parents are together or not. To that end, very few would ever debate the necessity of financial child support. However, there are some in Illinois, including government agencies, who believe that the application of child support in the state may be somewhat outdated.

The Current System

Right now in Illinois, there are more than half a million children being supported by child support orders. Each order was established under the current provisions in the law, which represents a support model known as “percentage of obligor net income.” This system offers statutory guidelines for calculating child support payment based primarily on the income of the parent responsible for paying support and the number children being supported. While the law does permit the court to generally consider the income and resources of the non-paying parent, there are no specific directions on how to do so.

A model like the one currently in use throughout the state may have served useful purpose in past generations, but modern family situations are different than they used to be. “Our formulas and how we calculate how much should be paid are out of whack with the rest of the United States,” said Children’s Rights Council of Illinois chair member Mike Doherty.

Proposed Changes

As far back as 2010, the Illinois Child Support Advisory Committee recommended changing the child support model and has continued to advocate for change despite minimal progress. The system being recommended is one currently being used by 38 other states called “income shares,” which is seen by many as a more equitable approach to child support.

Under the income shares model, both parents’ combined income is considered in establishing a support amount, which is then divided equitably between them. The division takes into account each parent’s income, shared parenting time, and many other factors not expressly considered under the current provisions. Doherty has come out in support of such a model. “It is more rational economically,” he said. “It simply makes sense. Both parents are responsible for their child.”

Slow Progress

Despite the recommendations of the Child Support Advisory Committee and others, legislative action continues to stall. It has now been more than 4 years since the Advisory Committee put forth its first proposal, and very little has been accomplished on the issue in Springfield. In the meantime, new child support orders continued to be issued based on what many consider an antiquated model.

Regardless of your opinion of the current law, if you are subject to a child support order, continued compliance with the order is extremely important. If the terms of your order, however, are no longer manageable, an experienced Will County family law attorney can help you seek a modification. Contact the offices of Kezy & Associates today to schedule a free consultation and find out what our team can do for you.