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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 child support attorneyIf you are a parent who relies on child support payments to cover the costs associated with your children’s housing, school and extracurricular activities, and child care, you know just how important this financial assistance is. When a paying parent or “obligor” fails to make child support payments in full and on time, this can lead to significant financial hardship. In many cases, child support non-payment is due to unemployment or underemployment. Read on to learn about how a parent’s employment status may influence the amount of child support they are required to pay.

Is the Obligor’s Employment Status Involuntary?

Illinois child support orders are calculated via the “Income Shares” model. The main factor in determining the amount of parents’ child support obligations is the net income each parent earns. If your child’s other parent is not working, working only part time, or earns a very low income, you may wonder how this will affect your child support order. 

To answer this question, the court must first determine whether a parent’s unemployment or underemployment is voluntary or involuntary. Involuntary unemployment or underemployment may qualify a parent for a lowered child support obligation. For example, if a parent has been laid off from their job due to no fault of their own, the amount they pay in child support may be reduced accordingly, although the court will likely require the parent to seek employment that will allow them to contribute toward their children’s needs. However, if a parent has quit his or her job, chooses to work limited hours, or lost his or her job but makes little effort to find gainful employment, this situation will likely be treated differently under Illinois law.  

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Wheaton, IL Child Support LawyerChild support may be ordered to ensure that unmarried or divorcing parents share in the costs of raising their children. Typically, the parent with the majority of parenting time is the recipient of child support paid by the parent with less parenting time. Child support can be an essential resource for providing for children’s needs, but it can also be a heavy financial burden on the paying parent. This may be especially true if the paying parent has more than one child support obligation. If you share children with your current spouse and are planning to get a divorce, you may wonder how previous child support obligations will influence any additional child support determinations.

How Much Will My Child Support Payment Be?

Along with many other family law modifications, substantial changes to the way Illinois courts calculate child support were instituted in 2017. Child support is no longer simply a percentage of the obligor, or paying parent’s, income. Child support orders entered under the updated law are calculated using the Income Shares Model, which takes both parents’ income and other factors into account. Child support payments are now calculated using the following steps:

  • Both parents’ net income is combined in order to establish the overall financial resources available to the child.

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DuPage County child support attorneyIn July of 2017, Illinois enacted major changes to the way child support is calculated. Previous to this change, child support obligations were calculated by applying a percentage based on the number of children requiring support to the obligor parent’s income. For example, if you had one child, you would pay 20 percent of your net income in child support, and if you had two children, you would pay 28 percent of your income. Some parents are still subject to child support orders created under the old law, but any new child support arrangements will be calculated using the “Income Shares” method. Illinois child support orders now take both parents’ net incomes and amount of parenting time into consideration. If you are a parent who has children with more than one person, you may wonder how the court will determine a child support arrangement that is achievable with regard to your financial resources while still providing for all of your children’s needs.

Income Shares Child Support Guidelines

The Income Shares model for child support calculation involves the following steps:

  • Both parents’ net income is added together to determine their combined net income. This combined amount represents the financial resources that would be available to the child if the parents were married.

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The Importance of Child Support Payments for a Single Parent

Wheaton child support lawyerAccording to the United States Census Bureau, upwards of 25% of American children under the age of 21 have one parent living outside their primary household. While ultimately, the role of the custodial parent is the most critical aspect of proper childhood development, many children rely on financial support from their non-custodial parent. Child support payments can be crucial in helping a parent pay for essentials such as food, school tuition, school supplies, and many other vital ingredients to a healthy upbringing. 

Throughout the United States, as many as 21.4 million children live with only one custodial parent. If you are expecting to take on the challenge of being a single parent, child support can be monumental in ensuring a financially healthy future for you and your family. Finding competent and experienced legal representation can make all the difference in guaranteeing your family receives the child support you deserve. 

The Truth About Child Support in the United States 

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