In July of this year, a new law regarding the calculation of child support went into effect in Illinois. The measure was intended to update the state’s approach to child support and to bring Illinois more in line with most other states. The change was largely seen as an improvement over the previous law, as calculations must take into account the income of both parents instead of just the paying parent, as well as a number of other factors that were not considered in the past.
Those who already have a child support order in place may be curious about how—if at all—the new law will affect their current obligations. Most, however, will need to wait until there is a sufficient justification to amend their existing order before they will see any changes to their support payments.
Substantial Changes in Circumstances
According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), a child support order can be modified if and when either parent shows that there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of the family. A substantial change could be one that affects the income of either parent, either parent’s own needs, or the needs of the child. Common examples include the paying parent’s loss of employment and an illness or injury to either parent or the child. Upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances by either party, the court will recalculate the paying parent’s obligation by applying the existing calculation guidelines to the family’s new situation.
New Law Is Not a “Substantial Change”
When the Illinois legislature created the bill to amend the state’s child support law, the bill’s authors had the foresight to consider how the new law might affect existing child support orders. Therefore, they included language that specifically excluded the new law as an appropriate basis for modifying a support order. “The enactment of this amendatory Act of the 99th General Assembly itself does not constitute a substantial change in change in circumstances warranting a modification,” the Act clearly states.
However, there is another provision in the law that could help parents seeking a support order modification. Absent a substantial change in circumstances, a parent may seek a modification if a recalculation under the current guidelines would create a difference of at least 20 percent from the existing support order. The 20 percent change must also equal at least $10 per month. The “20 percent rule” is frequently used in cases where neither party has had dramatic life changes but enough small changes have accumulated over a period of several years to justify a recalculation of child support obligations.
We Can Help
If you have questions about modifying a child support order in Illinois, the experienced Kane County child support lawyers at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. can provide the guidance you need. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today.