Illinois law recognizes that each parent has a duty to financially support his or her children. This duty includes an “obligation to provide for the reasonable and necessary educational, physical, mental, and emotional health needs of the child.” The duty is shared by both parents regardless of whether they are custodial parents or non-custodial parents of the child. The law regarding child support in Illinois though pertains to obligations of the non-custodial parent to financially provide for his or her child.
As a general rule, the amount of child support a non-custodial parent will be ordered to pay depends on the parent’s income and the number of children for which the parent is responsible. The State of Illinois uses statutory guidelines that assign the minimum amount a non-custodial parent must pay in child support. For example, a non-custodial parent may be asked to pay at least 20 percent of his or her income to the custodial parent for the support of one child. The parent may be asked to pay at least 28 percent for the support of two children and at least 50 percent of his or her income for the support of six or more children. Income is defined as net income, which is the amount of income the parent takes home after paying taxes out of the paycheck and certain other expenses.
Exceptions to Statutory Guidelines
Under certain circumstances, family law court may elect not to assign child support payments in accordance with the statutory guidelines. This typically occurs when one party presents evidence of out-of-the-ordinary facts about his or her individual situation that would make application of the statutory guidelines against the child’s best interest. Some points parents can bring up to show the guidelines should be inapplicable to their given situations include:
- The standard of living that the child became accustomed to during the marriage;
- The physical and emotional condition of the child and his or her related needs;
- The educational needs of the child;
- Financial resources and needs of the custodial parent; and
- Financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.
If a family law judge makes a finding that deviates from the statutory guidelines, the judge must discuss reasons why he or she found the guidelines inappropriate for a given case.
When calculating child support, the Illinois statute provides specific guidance on the following common child support issues:
Health Insurance – In cases where a child support agreement states which parent is responsible for covering the child under an employer’s health insurance plan, the responsible parent may deduct premiums paid toward that health insurance plan from his or her support obligations.
Variable Income – Sometimes a non-custodial parent has income that is highly variable. This commonly occurs when a parent owns a business or works for a largely commission-based or tips-based payment package, for example. When a court determines that a parent’s income is highly variable, it may assign a fairly small minimum dollar amount of child support; though court may also require the variable income parent to pay a certain percentage of his or her income each year.
Failure to Cooperate – If one parent refuses to produce requested financial information during discovery or fails to attend a child support hearing, the court may consider other evidence available without having to establish a further foundation for admission of the evidence.
Violation of Child Support Order – either party who violates a child support order may be held in contempt of court. In addition to other penalties associated with a contempt charge, the court may order the violating parent to pay fines or serve a period of imprisonment for up to six months. If the parent violated child support due to unemployment or underemployment, a court may order the violating spouse to produce frequent financial statements, seek employment, and report his or her job-seeking efforts to the court via a journal or attend a job training program.
We Are Here to Help
Attorneys at the Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. are experienced in negotiating and seeking the enforcement of child support orders. If you believe you or someone you know who is going through a divorce can benefit from our services, we encourage you to contact an experienced DuPage County child support lawyer at (877) 889-4515.