New Child Support Guidelines Coming Next Summer

For many years, the laws regarding the payment of child support in Illinois have been heavily criticized as being very outdated. While few parents would argue about the importance of providing financial support for their children, how such payments are calculated has changed very little over the last several decades. Next summer, however, a new law goes into effect that will change the way that support orders are calculated throughout the state.

Existing Child Support Standards

As the law is currently written, a court is required to consider two primary factors when ordering child support. The first and most prominent factor is the net income of the parent being ordered to make payments. The second factor is the number of children to be supported by the order. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides a standardized table for calculating support orders, beginning with 20 percent of the paying parent’s income for one child and ranging up to 50 percent for six or more children. The court is permitted to make modifications to this calculation based on circumstantial factors, but the basis is relatively similar in almost every case.

The problem with a system like this, critics believe, is that it places an undue level of responsibility on the supporting parent without regard for the resources of the receiving parent or shared parenting time. For example, a supporting parent who spends three days per week with his or her two children—while paying for food, activities, and other costs—is likely to pay an equal percentage of his or her income as a parent who spends one day per month with his or her two children.

A New Approach

Beginning July 1, 2017, the state will move away from this model of calculating child support in favor of one that is generally considered to be much more equitable. The new model is known as “income shares” and calculates child support as a function of the combined net income of both parents. Each parent’s obligation would be determined based on their contributing percentage to the combined income. The new law will also expressly account for shared parenting situations.

While the exact percentages and amounts are still being developed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS), it is possible to pose a reasonable hypothetical scenario. Consider a situation in which the father of one child earns a net income of $70,000 per year and the mother earns a net income of $50,000 per year. Their combined income is $120,000 annually or $10,000 month. If the DHFS sets child-rearing costs for a family making $10,000 per month at $2,000, the parents would split the $2,000 based on their respective contributions to the combined income—about 58 percent to dad and about 42 percent to mom. Thus, the father would likely be ordered to pay $1,160 per month to the mother, shared parenting considerations notwithstanding.

Child Support Questions?

When the DHFS releases its official guidelines, it will be much easier to calculate an estimated support payment for your specific situations. Until then, if you have questions about the new law or any other issues regarding child support, contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney. We will provide the answers you need and responsible legal guidance you deserve. Schedule your free initial consultation today.