Beginning next summer, child support considerations will be drastically different in Illinois than in years past. Long-awaited changes to how child support is calculated in the state are slated to go into effect on July 1, 2017, thanks to a measure signed by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner earlier this month. The new law fulfills a promise made by lawmakers last year when sweeping reforms to divorce and child custody statutes were enacted but child support discussions were tabled until now. Going forward, parents can expect a more equitable process of calculating each party’s financial responsibilities regarding their children.
Percentage of Obligor’s Income
Currently, a parent’s obligation for child support is based upon two primary factors: the income of the supporting parent and the number of children requiring support. This calculation model is known as “percentage of income,” and Illinois is just one of five states to use a flat-percentage system. Within the law, courts have been granted the discretion to alter the support requirement on a case-by-case basis, but the basic calculation, for all intents and purposes, has become very outdated. Today, both parents are much more likely to be generating substantial income than in previous generations, yet the current law does not expressly encourage the court to take both parent’s income into account when determining an appropriate amount for child support.
The new law promises to change virtually everything about how child support orders are calculated. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DFHS) has been statutorily directed to develop a scale that estimates how much of the parents’ income would have been used for their children if they had continued to share a household. While the exact numbers have not yet been worked out, the basic guidelines and principles have been established in the law.
Each child support case will begin by adding together the income of both parents. Based on the total income number, the DFHS table will provide a presumed amount that represents—for lack of a better phrase—the cost of raising a child. That amount will then be divided between the parents, proportionally based on the percentage that each parent contributes to the combined income.
Putting It Together
For example, if two parents combined to earn $100,000 per year, the total support amount for one child is likely to be estimated at approximately $13,000 per year, based loosely on guidelines from other states with a similar model since Illinois numbers are not yet available. That $13,000, or about $1,100 per month would be divided between the parents according to their income. A parent with fewer parental responsibilities making $60,000 in this simplified scenario would be responsible for 60 percent of the support or about $640 per month.
The new law also includes provisions for shared parenting time and other considerations to directly affect each party’s responsibilities. While the amended statute is somewhat more complex than the current version, the complexity is necessary to account for the modern reality of shared parenting.
Let Us Help
If you have questions about child support in Illinois and how the new law could affect your situation, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.