In early August 2016, the Illinois legislature passed an act modifying the state’s child support guidelines, to take effect at the beginning of next month. The current regulations have been a subject of significant discussion in the last few years, notably from fathers’ rights groups alleging that the current guidelines unfairly penalize non-custodial parents. It remains to be seen whether the new laws will be an improvement.
An Alleged Burden on Paying Parents
Illinois’s current child support regulations are determined by minimum percentages of the paying parent’s income. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act sets out the formulas used by the court, and while the formulas may be modified by a judge when necessary, most of the time they are not modified. The formulas are somewhat of a holdover from the days when most families had one breadwinner rather than two working parents, and as such, they are primarily suited for situations in which there is an earning paying parent and a stay-at-home recipient parent. Such family situations still exist, but they are no longer the norm for most households.
While having a simplified formula can be convenient and cut down on court traffic, it can cause genuine issues for the paying parent. It is not uncommon for a supporting parent to experience genuine finanical issues as the result of ordered support payments, especially since payments cannot be changed without showing the court convincing evidence why it should be done.
Changes: The Income Shares Model
The new regulations that will take effect in July are more in line with those currently used in several dozen other states. The new system is referred to as the “income shares” model. The bill establishes guidelines that will calculate child support based on both parents’ adjusted net income (as opposed to gross income, which does not take taxes or other mandatory payments into account). It will also take into account couples who “share parenting” or practice “split parenting” (meaning one or more children of the marriage live with one parent, and the others with the other parent), calculating support on a different basis than if one parent is awarded the clear majority of parenting time.
There is an important point to keep in mind. In order to change child support payments, one must normally show a “substantial change in circumstances.” The law that will take effect contains a specific provision stating that the law’s passage does not constitute a substantial change in circumstances. In other words, if you are paying child support, you may not use the law’s modification as the sole reason to come back to court and ask for your support amount to be changed.
Ask a Child Support Attorney
If you have any questions regarding the upcoming changes to the child support regulations, we can help you find the answers you need. The knowledgeable Kane County family law attorneys at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. are well versed in the changes to the law and are happy to assist you. Call us today at 630-377-7770 to set up an appointment.