If you are an unmarried or divorced parent, there is a strong possibility that you are now or will soon be subject to an order for child support. Illinois laws, like those in other states, may require either, and in some cases, both parents to contribute financially to the support of their children. With rare exceptions, the parent who does not maintain primary physical custody is generally required to pay support to be calculated as prescribed by law.
Child Support as a Percentage of Net Income
The basic formula used by the court for calculating child support orders takes into account two factors. The first consideration is the payor’s net income, which is determined as his or her total income minus allowable deductions, such as taxes, Social Security, mandated retirement contributions, union dues, insurance premiums, previous support orders, and other appropriate expenditures. Secondly, the number of children being supported must be considered. The minimum amount of support to be paid will generally be:
- 20 percent of the payor’s 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.
Other Relevant Factors
The court may also take into consideration a number of other factors that can impact the needs of the child or the ability of the payor to meet the recommended obligations. These can include:
- The financial needs and resources of the child;
- The financial needs and resources of both parents;
- The standard of living the child to which the child became accustomed prior to divorce;
- The other needs of the child, including physical, emotional, mental, and educational requirements; and
- Expenses related to childcare, and extracurricular activities.
Balancing the needs of the child with financial resources and needs of the parents, the court will enter an order for child support. Once the order has been established, the payor must fulfill the obligation set forth or face child support enforcement activities and potential penalties.
An Outdated Model?
There is a growing measure of concern around the state that basing child support payments solely on the income of one parent is very antiquated. While such a model may have been more appropriate when more households relied on a single income, today’s families may be better served by a more flexible calculation method.
One model, in particular, known as “income shares,” has been adopted in a number of states already with a large degree of success. Under an income shares system, the income of both parents is used to calculate a support amount, which can also be impacted by other factors including joint custody arrangements and shared parenting time. With such mechanisms in place, the end result is often much more equitable. This type of plan has been proposed in Illinois, but no legislative changes seem to be forthcoming as of yet.
Child Support Lawyers
If you are interested in pursuing a child support order for your child and do not know where to begin, start with us. Contact an experienced family law attorney in Oak Brook today. The team at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. is prepared to help you throughout the process and will work with you to ensure the best possible future for you and your child.