How To Ensure Child Support is Fair and Accurate in Illinois


Illinois uses the Income Share Model to determine fair child support for children. Both parents' income are combined, then parenting time and other expenses are considered, and finally, the support amount is determined. This is done so the child still receives the support they would if the parents and child were living together.

In Illinois, when going through a divorce involving minor children, it is required to also come to a child support arrangement even if one spouse is unemployed or can’t be found. The goal of child support is to make sure children maintain the same quality of life, even after their parents split up.

Changes in the Illinois law mean that child support is now determined by the income shares model. In the old law, a flat percentage was taken from the parent who did not have custody of the child. However, as we detailed above, with the new law the concept of custody has been done away with, and with it the way that child support is determined.

Since no parent has custody of the child, instead child support is determined by looking at both parent’s net income, and then figuring out how much each parent contributes. In an amicable situation where parenting time is split down the middle, this means that the higher earning spouse will owe the lesser earning one. This can get complicated by lopsided parenting schedules, or if the court determines other payments must be included in child support such as outstanding medical payments or money for extracurricular activities.

The income shares model uses charts determined by a large study conducted by the state, how much it costs a family living as one family unit to raise children based on their income.

Factors Determining Child Support Under the Income Shares Model

  1. Standard Child Support Obligation: This is an amount predetermined by the state of Illinois as to how much it costs to raise a child based on both parents net income (income after taxes) and the number of children. The child support obligation is then divided proportionally between the parents based on their individual contribution to the total “household net income”.
  2. Additional Expenses: Additional expenses are then factored into the Standard Child Support Obligation. These will include child care costs and extraordinary medical expenses predetermined by the state of Illinois. Other costs may also include extracurricular activities and or outstanding medical or health insurance expenses.
  3. Parenting Time: Once the total Child Support Obligation is determined, the time spent with each parent will dictate which parent receives child support. If parents split time evenly, which means each parent has the child for over 40% of the year, the child support obligation is multiplied by 1.5.

References: How to File for and Collect Child Support

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