July 2017 Brought New Child Support Calculation Guidelines to Illinois
St. Charles Divorce and Family Law Attorneys
In July of this past year, a new law went into effect in Illinois that significantly changed the manner in which family courts calculate obligations for child support. In the opinion of many people around the state, the new law has been long overdue, as they saw the previous calculation method as inherently one-sided and biased against the paying parent. Under the old law, child support obligations were based primarily on the income of the supporting parent. When it comes to family finances, today’s world is vastly different from the one that existed several decades ago, and very few households survive on a single income. This is especially true for families that have experienced a divorce.
The Outdated Method
When child support was ordered under the old system, the court would usually set the required payment as a fixed percentage of the paying parent’s income. The percentage was determined based on the number of minor children covered by the support order. A parent ordered to pay support for one child would normally pay 20 percent of her or her net income. The percentage increased to 28 percent for two children, 32 percent for three children, and so on, up to 50 percent for six or more children. The court used the paying parent’s net income so that allowances could be made for taxes and other specified deductions.
In some cases, the court could adjust the required payment amount based on circumstantial factors, but the formula was expected to be followed whenever possible. The recipient parent’s income was rarely considered, and certainly not in a standardized manner. Paying parents also received very little credit, if any, for money spent on the children during their shared parenting time. Thus, many believed that paying parents were actually forced to pay more than their fair share in many situations.
How the Law Works Now
The most significant change brought by the new law is the requirement to take both parents’ income into consideration when determining child support obligations. As a result, child support calculations are more complicated now, but they are decidedly more equitable. To start, the court must first establish each parent’s net income, then add the totals together to determine a combined net income. Using this figure, the court will reference tables developed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) to find the family’s basic support obligation.
The DHFS created the tables based on extensive research to estimate the amount that two parents with a specific combined income would spend on their children in an intact family situation. According to the tables, for example, two parents with a combined monthly net income of $5,000 would spend $1,423 each month to raise two children. The amount would go up to $1,701 for three children and down to $943 for one child.
Once the basic support amount has been determined, the court will allocate that amount between the parents. To do so, the basic support obligation is multiplied by each parent’s percentage of contribution to the combined monthly net income. Using the previous example, if each parent contributed half of the monthly net income of $5,000 and the couple had two children, each parent’s support responsibility would be half of $1,423 which is $711.50. Support is normally ordered payable to the parent with primary residential responsibilities for the child or children.
Shared Parenting Considerations
The new law also provides a mechanism for taking shared parenting arrangements into account. The mechanism is only applicable, however, when both parents have 146 or more overnights (about 40 percent) with the child or children each year. To account for the duplicated costs of raising the children in two homes, the basic support obligation is multiplied by a factor of 1.5 before being divided between the parents. Each parent’s support obligation is determined by the percentage of contribution to the combined monthly net income, then multiplied by the amount of time the child spends with the other parent to reach the final support amount.
Using the above example again, the basic support obligation was $1,423 for two children. If the children spend 45 percent of the time with Dad and 55 percent of the time with Mom, the basic support obligation would be multiplied by 1.5 to account for the extra costs—which totals $2,134.50. Assuming that both parents still contribute half of the monthly combined income, each parent’s portion of the support obligation would be $1,067.25. Dad’s obligation would then be multiplied by 0.55, the percentage of time the children spend with Mom, to obtain his final obligation of about $587.00 per month. Mom’s obligation would be multiplied by 0.45, the percentage of time the children spend with Dad, to obtain an obligation of about $480.00 per month. The amount of Mom's obligation will be subtracted from Dad's obligation, making a total of $107.00 which Dad will pay to Mom each month.
Call Us for Help
If you have questions about the new child support law, one of our experienced Kane County family law attorneys can help you find the answers you need. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.