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Posted on in Child Support

Illinois divorce attorney

During a divorce, there are some occasions when one spouse is ordered by the court to pay both spousal maintenance and child support. However, the financial burden created by such an arrangement can be painful, especially considering the income tax treatment of child support and spousal maintenance. Illinois law permits the parties, who reach a settlement agreement, to classify both kinds of support payments in such a way as to keep more money in the hands of the family due to tax savings. 


Watching your child grow and develop is among the most sublime experiences a parent will ever know. It follows, however, that changes in growth and development also affect the child's needs in many areas, including physical, emotional, mental, and educational requirements. A child of divorced or unmarried parents may have had such needs considered during the initial establishment of a child support order, which, consequently, may require updating.

In addition to the evolving needs of the child, a support order may also need to be updated as the result of other situational changes surrounding the family. Understanding the need for modification, though, begins with a clear comprehension of how a child support order is determined in the first place.

Income and Other Factors


calculating child support, support orders, Oak Brook Family LawyerIf 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:


Support Orders, Missed Payments, Illinois family law attorneyIf you are a divorced parent, chances are you and your former spouse have a child support agreement in place as part of your divorce settlement. When you have a child support agreement, your spouse is required to pay you a specified amount of money every month, every week, or according to another schedule drafted by the court, until your child becomes an adult. This is to help you cover the costs that come with raising a child such as groceries, clothing, shelter, academic support, and extracurricular activities.

When a parent fails to make his or her child support payments, the child is the one who suffers. Custodial parents might find themselves stressed or feeling overwhelmed when they don't receive the financial support their former partner agreed to pay. Failing to pay child support is a violation of a court order and can carry civil and criminal penalties under the Illinois Non-Support Punishment Act. If your spouse is routinely late with child support payments or has not made a payment in months, you have the right to get the court involved to get the money your child deserves.

The First Missed Payment
Before going to the court, talk to your former spouse. He or she might be going through a difficult time financially and just need some time to catch up on the payments. The keys to successfully co-parenting your child are communication and understanding. Give your former spouse the chance to explain him or herself and see if you can work out a solution where he or she pays what he or she can at the time. If he or she is truly facing financial hardship, suggest that he or she seek a child support modification.


child support orderAccording to the Illinois Attorney General, there were more than 496,000 child support cases in the Illinois Child Support Program in 2013. These cases affected almost 520,000 children statewide, facilitating $289 million in support payments. As there is nothing to indicate significant change, the numbers are likely to be similar this year.

Under Illinois law, both parents are expected to provide for the needs of the child, including physical, mental, education and health-related needs. Following a divorce or separation, the expectation remains and, in fact, is more likely to legally quantified and enforced. While parents may attempt to negotiate a support arrangement on their own, provisions in the law instruct the court how to calculate the amount of financial support for which one or both parents may be responsible. Once a support case has reached the court, deviations from the formula specified by law are only permitted with specific justification.

The resources and needs of the child and both parents are taken into account, as well as the pre-divorce standard of living and the child's future expected needs. After consideration of all pertinent information, the court decides which parent is expected to pay support and the amount of required support. When the support ordered is entered by the court, it becomes legally binding and parents who fail to meet their obligations may face fines, probation, or prison.

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