Child Support is one of the most important obligations that a parent has to a child, yet so many parents fight about it. Sometimes having answers helps avoid needless litigation. Below are 13 FAQs that should help parents understand their rights.
Child Support FAQ
Child Support Guidelines in Illinois
Number of Children and Percentage of Supporting Parent's Net* Income
1 - 20%
2 - 28%
3 - 32%
4 - 40%
5 - 45%
6 - 50%
* Net Income is calculated as follows: All income minus state and federal taxes, Social Security and Medicare payments, mandatory retirement contributions, union dues, healthcare premiums, and prior child support obligations. Student loans and other self-employed expenses may be subtracted as well.
Under what circumstances can the Court deviate from the statutory guidelines for child support?
If the obligor-parent's income is extremely high the Court may deviate from the statutory guidelines and order to pay child support solely based on the child's needs so that the child and/or the primary residential parent do not receive a windfall.
What does the child support amount NOT include?
Child Support does not include day care costs, school tuition, extracurricular activities, medical insurance costs, out of pocket medical costs and the like. All such expenditures are in addition to child support and may be ordered to be shared among both parents.
The parent who is the primary residential parent earns greater income than the supporting parent. Does this impact the child support amount for the supporting parent?
No. In Illinois it does not matter what the other parent who is the primary residential parent earns. The sole focus is on the obligor's income and the child's needs.
Can both parents agree to change the child support amount and would it be valid?
No, the Court's role is to ensure that the child's best interests are protected. As such, the Court alone makes the decision whether the child support should be modified. Any other modifications without prior Court's approval are not valid.
When does the child support terminate?
Child Support terminates when the child reaches the age of 18 or upon graduation from high school, whichever comes later. It may continue through the child's college. And it may terminate upon the child's emancipation at an earlier age.
Does the child support stop on its own when the child reaches the age of majority?
No, you must have a Court order to terminate child support. The Court may not know of your child's reaching the age of majority or emancipation unless you bring it to the Court's attention.
I lost my employment, do I have to continue paying child support?
Yes, all child support changes must be approved by the Court. If you lost your employment you must bring it to the Court's attention and request a modification or abatement until you find new employment. The Court may monitor progress of your job search.
The supporting parent's income increased, will child support increase as well?
There has to be a substantial change in circumstances to increase or decrease child support. Salary increase may result in the increase in child support amount but it must be brought to the Court's attention by way of Petition to Modify Child Support Based on Substantial Change in Circumstances.
The supporting parent quit his/her employment to avoid paying child support and now is seeking a reduction in child support based on his/her new, lower income.
The law prohibits voluntarily unemployment or voluntarily underemployment in order to lower child support obligations. If the Court finds that the loss or change of employment was voluntary and primarily done to lower the child support obligation then the child support amount will not be modified to a lower amount. The parent who went through a drastic reduction in income will continue to have to pay child support on the higher income he/she enjoyed previously.
What can the Court do if the supporting parent fails to pay child support or pays less and owes child support?
The Courts are very strict in reviewing child support matters and may order severe punishment, such as loss of driving privileges, loss of passport and jail time until the amount is repaid.
Is there a statute of limitations on child support?
No. If you owe child support, it will never go away, the obligation will continue forever. If you die before you satisfy your child support obligation the other parent may continue to seek repayment through your estate.
I can't afford repaying arrears for child support, will bankruptcy help?
No, child support and other marital obligations are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.