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Modify Child Support in Illinois

An Illinois child support order can be reviewed for modification every three years. Existing orders are only changed when there has been a change in the child’s needs or a parent’s financial situation. The court can modify child support before the three-year mark if there is a significant change in circumstances.

If you want to change how much child support you pay or get paid, read on. This article outlines when your child support can be changed and what the process looks like.

Modifying Child Support in Illinois

Child support can be reviewed for modification at any time if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Examples of a substantial change are gaining a new job, no longer having to pay maintenance, or acquiring a large inheritance.

To actually get it changed, you need to fill out the necessary paperwork, file it with the courts, and attend your hearing.

When to Modify Child Support in Illinois

Child support can only be modified through the court process. And the court will hear the case if one of the following is true:

  • There is a substantial change in either party’s financial situation;
  • At least three years have passed since the last child support order was put in place;
  • The previous order did not address healthcare coverage for the child; or
  • A written request for a review is received by DCSS from the custodial parent, non-custodial parent, or another state.

One of the first steps is filing your paperwork. Once you file it, the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) should let you know within 30 days whether the order qualifies for a review.

How to Modify Child Support in Illinois

In short, you modify child support by filing the correct paperwork then going to your court date. The more detailed steps are as follows.

1. Decide if You Need an Attorney

People with more complicated cases will want to work with an attorney. For example, you should speak with an attorney if:

  • You owe back child support.
  • The child's living situation has changed.
  • You want to file your petition in a different county than the original case.
  • You have more than one child support order.

When choosing an attorney, look for one that only practices family law. Like our attorneys at Sterling Lawyers, LLC, a family law focused attorney is better suited for child support cases. This is because they know what laws and arguments best support your case to the local judges.

2. Fill Out Your Forms

The forms are a little tricky because there aren’t forms specific to modifying child support. Instead, you use blank forms and fill in the reason as “Modification of Child Support.” Because the motion form is blank, you will need to outline exactly what you are asking for and why.

Fill out these forms:

  • Motion for Modification of Child Support
  • Notice of Court Date for Motion
  • Child Support Information Sheet
  • Order for Support
  • Proof of Delivery

Download Child Support Modification Forms

3. File Your Forms with the Court

Once you have filled out the forms, you file them with your circuit court. Be sure you file the forms in the county your previous order is in. If you want to petition to change your case to a different county, speak with an attorney.

In Illinois, you must file your forms online, unless you get an exemption. To e-file, create an account and file on Odyssey – E-Filing for Illinois Courts.

4. Tell the Other Parent About the Request

After filing, the next step is letting the other party know you submitted a request to modify child support. Do this by mailing them a copy of the Motion for Modification of Child Support and the Proof of Delivery.

After mailing the other party those two documents, file a copy of the Proof of Delivery with the circuit clerk. The Proof of Delivery tells the court that you sent the correct documents and which day you sent them on.

5. Request a Hearing Date

If you e-file for your case, you may get to select the date and time of your hearing. If you didn’t get the option to choose, contact the clerk of your court to get on the calendar.

If you file paper copies at the courthouse, you will choose the date and time with the clerk you file with.

6. Prepare for the Hearing

Outline your testimony of how your situation has changed and why it deserves a change in child support. Then collect the necessary facts and evidence to support your testimony. This is usually done with the help of your attorney.

7. Go to Court for Your Hearing

Be sure to attend the hearing as scheduled. Your attorney should make sure you have everything prepared. Get there early, dress well, and make sure you have all the necessary information and documents.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (312) 757-8082 now!

Reasons for Modification: A Substantial Change in Circumstances

The court only changes child support orders after there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Exactly what this means is not outlined in the law, so here are some examples.

  • Increased Needs of the Children – If the child’s needs increase, the court looks to see if there is an imbalance in how much each parent is paying. They compare each party's ability to pay to their parenting time and how much they pay. If the court finds an imbalance, there will be a modification.
  • Improved Finances of the Paying Parent – If the paying parent finds themselves in a better financial situation, the amount they pay could go up. It could increase due to things like a raised income, another child no longer needing support, or the termination of spousal support.
  • Worsened Finances of the Paying Parent – If the paying party finds they can no longer afford to pay the same amount, their child support could decrease. This could be due to a decrease in income, loss of a job, or an increase in other expenses. However, any change to employment must be in “good faith,” meaning they changed jobs for a reason other than to decrease child support.
  • Change in Finances for the Receiving Parent – If the parent receiving support has a change in their financial situation, child support could increase or decrease. This change could be due to a reason listed above for the paying parent or something different.
  • Remarriage of Either Parent – A remarriage on its own is not enough to modify custody. But the court will look at new financial obligations and the income of the new spouse to understand the family's financial situation.
  • Change in Allocation of Parenting Time and Custody – Any modification to child custody and placement may need updated child support. This is because a main factor in the child support calculation is how many nights each parent has the child for.
  • Emancipation of a Child – Emancipation is a legal process where a child voluntarily leaves their parent’s home and takes responsibility for their own care. Since they are gone, neither parent needs to support them.
  • Resources of the Child – This is if the child’s financial situation significantly improves. An example of this could be if the child received a large inheritance.
  • Inflation and Cost of Living – Standard inflation alone is not enough for the court to change the order. To change support for this reason, you would need to show there has been a distinct increase in living expenses.

When assessing if there has been a substantial change in circumstances, the court looks at various factors. These factors include employment status, earning capacity, owned property, and other dependents.[1]

Modification Based on Deviation from Guidelines

Outside of a change in circumstances, child support can also be changed if the original order deviated from the state's guidelines. This reason can only be used if the current order has been in place for three full years.

The difference between the amount ordered and the amount that should be ordered based on the guidelines must be different by at least 20% and be more than $10 per month.[2]

Are you ready to move forward? Call (312) 757-8082 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.


Can a Child Support Modification Take Effect Retroactively?

A child support modification can affect previous payments. But it can only go back to when the initial modification paperwork was filed.

Do I Have to Pay Child Support While an Appeal Is Pending?

Yes, the person paying child support continues to pay during the court process. But they can ask the court to let them pay the modified amount during the process. And if they are denied, payments can be adjusted retroactively.

How Long Does It Take to Modify Child Support?

It usually takes up to 30 days to hear back whether your situation counts as a substantial change in circumstances. Once your case starts with the court, it usually takes a couple of months, depending on how contested the case is and how busy the court is.

What if I Don’t Know the Other Parent’s Income?

In Illinois, every employer is required to tell the Department of Employment Services when they hire a new employee. This information is shared with the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS), so they will know how much the other parent makes.

Also, in all support orders, it tells the person paying that they must tell DCSS anytime their employment or address changes. To get information on the other parent's income, contact DCSS.

Who Can Request a Modification Review?

The only people that can request a modification of child support are the parents/caretakers of the child, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, or another state’s child support agency.

Usually, it is a parent that seeks modification, but it can be an agency as well. For example, another state's child support agency may seek a modification if someone has a child support case in another state.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often is child support reviewed in Illinois?

Child support is eligible for review every three years (must be a full 36 months). Child support can also be reviewed for modification sooner if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Examples of a change in circumstances are listed above, but a few examples include the loss of a job, the birth of a new child, and a parent remarrying.
Modifying child support is not the same as enforcing child support. When a parent is supposed to pay child support but they don’t, the courts can enforce child support to get them to pay.

How is child support calculated?

Child support is calculated by finding the net income of both parents, comparing each parent's contribution to how many nights they have with the child, and seeing if there is an imbalance. The easiest way to do this is by using our Illinois child support calculator.

How do I file a child support modification in Illinois?

To file a motion, you need the correct paperwork. It can be downloaded on our website or on the website of your county. There aren’t forms specific to modifying custody, so you use the base motion forms and specify what they are for. Then, file those forms with the clerk of the county your case is in.

How do I file a motion to modify child support in Illinois?

To file a motion to modify support in Illinois, you download the correct forms, fill them out, then e-file them. You can download the correct forms above and then file them by clicking the link to e-file, found above in step 3.

How do I get my child support lowered in Illinois?

To get your child support lowered, there must have been a substantial change in circumstances. The change must have either made your financial situation worse or the other party’s better. However, you should act with urgency because the only way to officially make the change is to file a motion with the courts to get them to legally modify your child support.

Does child support increase if salary increases in Illinois?

Child support will not automatically increase if your salary increases. However, if you or the other party wants it to increase, they can file a request to modify child support. This request will only be approved if the change in salary substantially changes your financial situation.

Does child support go down if the father has another baby in Illinois?

The father having another child will affect the child support calculation. The child support will only change if a party relevant to the case files for a modification. This is because the Illinois child support calculation looks at each parents' obligations to other families.

What age does child support end in Illinois?

Usually, child support ends when the child turns 18 or graduates high school. It can end sooner if the child emancipates themselves before 18. It can also end later if there are specific circumstances allowing child support to extend. For example, child support can continue while the child is in college to cover things like tuition and books.

References: 1. ​​750 ILCS § 5/510 (a)(1-9). Property, Support, and Attorney Fees. | 2. 750 ILCS § 5/510 (a)(2)(A).

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