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illinois child support lawyerWhen a divorce is finalized, the divorce decree will describe property division, spousal support, allocation of parental responsibilities, and how much child support must be paid. However, circumstances can justify modifying a divorce order so that the amount of child support due reflects a parent’s current situation. In order to understand how a job change or other circumstance may affect child support payments, it is important to first understand how child support is determined in Illinois. 

What Factors Does a Court Consider When Determining Child Support?

Hourly wages or salary are not the only factors a court will consider when making decisions regarding child support. Child support is calculated using both parents’ net income. The following factors may influence the amount a parent pays in child support: 

  • Spousal support or child support orders from a previous relationship

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wheaton child support lawyerDivorce can be financially taxing, even for the wealthiest of families. When a divorce is contested, it can be even more expensive and time-consuming than expected. For those who have children, child support can be one of the most important financial aspects of divorce. Ensuring that your children are adequately provided for may mean that you need to include child-related expenses above and beyond what typical child support payments provide. 

Expenses to Consider Adding to Your Support Order

In some cases, a child may have additional needs or expenses that the custodial parent needs assistance with. In these cases, the custodial parent can request that these additional expenses be added to the child support order so the cost can be split between the parents. Though parents can create their own individual child support agreements containing whatever provisions they see fit, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides for specific child-related expenses that may be added to the support order. These expenses include:

  • Medical Expenses - Either one or both parents must provide health insurance for the child or obtain state-sponsored health insurance if it is not available from their employer. You may be able to add certain medical expenses to your child support order if they are not covered by insurance. These expenses can include things like prescription medication costs, co-pays, portions of medical costs not covered by insurance, and costs related to dental or vision care.

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Wheaton, IL child support enforcement attorneyAs any parent can tell you, children are expensive. Between education and childcare, housing, groceries, healthcare, and other child-related costs, raising a child without financial assistance from the child’s other parent can be a major struggle. Parents have a moral responsibility and a legal obligation to provide for their child’s needs. Unfortunately, some parents try to evade this responsibility. If you are a single parent, and your child’s other parent is not paying child support, there are steps you can take to get the financial assistance you and your child deserve.   

Establishing a Child Support Order in Illinois

If you and your ex have casually agreed on a child support arrangement, unfortunately, there is not much that the courts can do to enforce this arrangement. That is why it is important for any divorced or unmarried parent to get an official child support order from the court. If your child’s father is not paying child support, but he never signed a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity or otherwise established his legal relationship with your child, you will need to establish paternity before you can get a child support order.

Enforcing an Existing Child Support Order

If you already have a child support order, but your child’s other parent is not abiding by the order, there are several things you can do to assert your right to receive child support. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) is the agency that enforces child support orders in Illinois. You may also be able to enforce the order through the court system. Parents who do not pay child support can face several significant consequences including:

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Wheaton, IL child support attorney for past-due support obligationsChild support payments are intended to provide a parent with the financial support he or she needs to cover housing, education, and other child-related costs. Illinois has adopted the “Income Shares” model for child support calculations. The amount a parent pays in child support in Illinois is typically based on the difference between the parents’ net incomes. This calculation method is designed to ensure that payments provide for the child’s needs and are reasonably affordable for the paying parent or “obligor.” However, circumstances can change, and obligor parents may find themselves in a situation where they cannot fulfill their child support obligations. If you are a parent who has fallen behind on child support payments in Illinois, you may wonder what types of consequences you may face. You may also question whether there is anything you can do to remedy the situation.

Child Support Arrears

Past due child support, or “child support arrears,” can cause significant legal problems for an obligor parent. Child support orders are legally enforceable court orders. If you fail to comply with the order, you may face a variety of consequences, including wage garnishment, liens on your property, interception of your tax returns, suspension of your driver’s license, and more. You may even be held in contempt of court.

Options for Illinois Parents Who Owe Child Support

If you cannot afford your child support payments because you lost your job, suffered a major injury or illness, or had other financial problems, you may wonder what to do next. The worst thing you can do is ignore the situation. You should contact your child’s other parent as well as the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Child Support Services and notify them of the situation. You may be able to reduce your child support obligation through a child support modification. However, this modification will only reduce the amount you will pay in new payments. You will still need to pay back the past due child support plus interest.

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Wheaton child support lawyerWhen married parents get divorced, or unmarried parents split up, one parent may be required to pay child support. The purpose of child support payments is to help the parent with the majority of parenting time pay for the costs associated with the child’s housing, nutrition, clothing, and other needs. Child support also helps ensure that a child with unmarried or divorced parents enjoys a standard of living that is similar to what he or she would have received if his or her parents were still married. However, child support can also be a significant expense for the paying or “obligor” parent – especially when the parent has more than one child support obligation.

Child Support Considerations for Parents with Multiple Families

If you are a parent who is already paying child support, and you are considering divorce, you may have questions about how the child support you currently pay will affect your new obligations. You may wonder if you will be required to pay child support to both families, and if so, how you will afford multiple obligations. Child support payment amounts are typically calculated using a statutory formula described in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). The amount that a parent is asked to pay is determined through the “Income Shares” calculation method. The Income Shares model involves four main steps:

  • Each parent’s net income or “take home pay” is determined by subtracting certain expenses from the parent’s gross income. Expenses such as income tax, health insurance, child support obligations, and spousal support obligations are subtracted from the parent’s income for the purposes of child support calculations. This means that the amount you pay in child support for a second obligation takes into consideration the amount of child support that you are already paying.

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