Most Illinois child support orders remain unchanged until the child turns 18 (or in some cases, graduates college) or until one parent petitions the court for a child support modification. It is important to understand what you will undergo during the process of changing a child support order in Illinois.
Why Seek Modification?
The most obvious reason a parent seeks a child support modification is when the non-custodial parent loses a job or changes to a considerably more or less lucrative job. Under Illinois law, a party can seek support order modification any time there is a substantial change in the parties’ financial circumstances. Other common reasons for seeking child support modification include:
- Job loss or job change of the custodial parent;
- Increase in child’s needs and expenses;
- Changes in availability of health insurance coverage for the child;
- Changes in the child’s living arrangements, such as when a child no longer lives with the custodial parent; and
- Changes in a parent’s necessary living expenses, in some cases.
Modifying a Child Support Order
Child support orders can be modified by petitioning the court and going through litigation proceedings; it can also be modified more informally by a negotiation between the parties in a mediation session. Mediation can be an attractive alternative when parents are on the same page about the proposed terms of the the child support modification. Petitioning the court to change the order, and then attending a court hearing, may be a more attractive option when parents cannot agree upon the amount of the proposed modification and would like a family law judge to decide. Prior to legally modifying the order, each party will need to complete a financial statement called a “Certification of Income and Expenses Form.”
When a Party Plans to go to Family Court for Modification
Under applicable Illinois law, the party petitioning the court to modify a child support order should be able to demonstrate the following:
- A significant change in financial circumstances occurred; or
- If a significant change in circumstances did not occur, then:
- The former child support amount did not comply with child support guidelines absent a reasonable reason for the deviation (in some cases); or
- There is a need to provide for the health insurance costs of the child.
When parties go before the court alleging a change in circumstances, it is necessary for the petitioning party seeking an increase in the other party’s support obligations to be able to prove the other party’s ability to pay. This can be done by conducting discovery on the other party’s assets and presenting the information as evidence in family law court.
Termination of Child Support Obligations
Unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, a parent no longer has to pay child support for a child who becomes legally emancipated or turns 18 years old. If the child is 18 years old and still in high school, support terminates when the child graduates high school or the child turns 19 years old, whichever is sooner.
Illinois child support cases are very dynamic and may be decided based on individual circumstances. At Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. we have experience working with families to secure fair and equitable child support arrangements. We can help parents modify child support agreements in mediation or tradition litigation-based settings. In addition to helping parents draft and modify child support agreements, we also assist parents in enforcing existing child support orders. For more information on our firm’s child support-based services, call (877) 889-4515 to speak to a knowledgeable Oak Brook family law attorney today.