Every child should be able to rely on his or her parents for love, guidance, and direction throughout his or her life, and particularly during the most formative years. Of course, as many thousands of parents divorce every year, more and more children may not have both biological parents sharing the home. While it may not be possible to legislate a parent's love for his or her child, Illinois has codified expectations for parents to provide financial support for their children.
Who Pays Child Support?
According to Illinois state law, an order of child support may require one or both parents to contribute a reasonable amount necessary to the support of the child. In practice, both parents rarely pay support and such requirements are usually enforced only in cases in which a non-parent is awarded guardianship or custody of the child. Most support orders require the parent without primary residential custody to pay support to the primary custodial parent for the child.
Calculating the Amount of Child Support
While the law does allow the court some discretion on the amount of support awards based on situational factors, there is a standard scale provided by law to be used in calculating a recommended amount. The supporting parent can expect child support to be determined as a percentage of his net income depending on the number of children being supported:
- 20 percent of net income for 1 child;
- 28 percent for 2 children;
- 32 percent for 3 children;
- 40 percent for 4 children;
- 45 percent for 5 children; and
- 50 percent for 6 or more children.
The law defines a party's net income as his or her total income minus deductions such as taxes, certain retirement contributions and dues, insurance premiums, prior support obligations and other allowed expenses. While the law attempts to provide a standard definition of net income, individual judges may apply the law a little differently in light of each case's circumstances.
Discretion of the Court
Many in Illinois feel that the current model of calculating support is not flexible enough to appropriate address the needs of many families. This model, known as "percentage of obligor net income," simply splits the payor's income based on the number of children. Advocates for a more flexible system, called an "income shares" model, believe that change is needed and that the income shares system can more equitably distribute support responsibilities.
In the meantime, the court does maintain a degree of discretion in child support orders under the current system. The court may elect to deviate from the recommended amounts, but only after considering factors pertinent to the situation including:
- Financial needs and resources of the child and each parent, including the supporting parent;
- Standard of living established; and
- The child's physical, mental, emotional and educational needs.
The court may also factor in the expected costs of health needs, child care, and other expenses to establish a support order.
If you are involved in a dispute over child support, a qualified lawyer can provide the guidance you need. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney for a consultation today and put our team to work for you.