Sweeping changes to the way Illinois courts will calculate child support are set to take effect July 1, 2017. Most people paying or receiving child support aren’t even aware of the first massive change to Illinois child support law in over 25 years, and in fact, many attorneys are similarly unaware of the new calculation methods.
For years Illinois has used a “percentage guideline” approach to the calculation of child support. This percentage guideline approach has simply taken a statutory multiplier (20 percent in situations where one child is to receive support) and applied it to the payor’s net income to reach a child support amount. For instance, a payor with $2,000 of net income was required to pay a $400 child support obligation for one child.
Effective July 1, 2017, Illinois will employ an “income shares” approach to the calculation of child support, and each party will have a specific statutory amount of child support for which he or she is legally responsible. Although the new rules provide that the parent with the majority amount of parenting time with the children will not actually pay the statutorily determined support amount, the effect of establishing that parent’s child support obligation is a reduction in the amount of child support he or she will receive from the parent with less parenting time.
The new calculations therefore require the court to determine the net income of both parents in order to calculate the child support due from one parent to the other. If both parties are employed, the net income of both parents (as determined by a statutorily defined formula) is combined, and the percentage of child support owed by each party is calculated by referencing a schedule developed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. If one parent is not employed or underemployed, the court can impute income to that parent in order to determine child support.
The new law also provides a formula designed to further reduce the non-majority time parent’s child support obligation if that parent has the child or children overnight for 146 or more nights per year. If you were divorced prior to January 1, 2016, this reduction might apply to you if you were designated as the “non-custodial” or “non-residential” parent but still have your child overnight for at least 146 nights during the calendar year.
There are many more new provisions taking effect July 1, 2017, involving payments for health insurance, extracurricular activities, childcare, etc. Our firm is available to assist you with any questions you might have as to how this new law might affect your right to or payment of child support.
Timothy E. Weiler has been selected to instruct lawyers about the new child support law on June 9. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and the John Marshall Law School. He can be reached by calling 630-587-5600 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.