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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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Wheaton child support modification lawyerAccording to Illinois law, both of a child’s parents must financially contribute to their child’s upbringing – even if the parents are unmarried or divorced. Illinois child support payment amounts are calculated using the “income shares” method. This method uses each parent’s net income and the amount of parenting time assigned to each parent to determine an appropriate child support order. If a parent wants to change the terms of the child support order, he or she will need to petition the court for a child support modification.   

Modification Reviews Through DCSS

Child support orders are eligible for a “modification review” every three years. The Illinois Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) will notify parents of their right to request a review of their current child support order. When a parent requests a review through DCSS, each parent will be asked to submit financial documentation which will be used to determine whether a modification is necessary.  

Substantial Changes in Circumstances

If it has not yet been three years since the end of a couple’s divorce or the last time a child support modification review was conducted, parents will typically only be able to request a modification if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” The following situations may qualify for a modification:

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Wheaton divorce lawyer for child support enforcement and modificationChild support is intended to help unmarried or divorced parents share the cost of raising a child. Illinois takes child support orders very seriously. When a child support order is entered by the court, the payments are not optional. If you do not pay court-ordered child support, you can face serious penalties, which may include criminal charges. If you cannot afford your current child support obligation, you may be able to request a modification from the court.

Consequences of Child Support Nonpayment in Illinois

In Illinois, child support enforcement is managed by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services' (DHFS) Division of Child Support. Through the Child Support Enforcement Program, the DHFS monitors child support payments and ensures that child support orders are being followed. When a recipient parent is not receiving court-ordered child support payments, he or she may contact the DHFS for help. Once the DHFS is aware of the problem, the agency will take steps to collect the unpaid child support. If the non-paying parent is receiving public assistance, the DHFS can take funds directly from the parent’s public assistance benefits.

If you fail to pay child support, your wages may be garnished. This means money will be taken directly out of your paycheck. In addition, your tax returns may be intercepted, or your bank account may be seized. If you are more than 90 days behind on your child support, your driver’s license or any professional licenses that you have can be suspended. If you owe more than $5,000 of past-due child support, or if you have not paid in six months or more, you may even be charged with a criminal offense.

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Naperville divorce and child support lawyer

Choosing to divorce is not a decision many people take lightly, especially if a couple has children. One of the primary concerns for divorcing parents is the ability to meet their children’s needs, and in many cases, one parent will pay child support to the other following the divorce. However, determining the correct amount of child support can often be a complex matter, and the methods of calculating child support differ from state to state. 

One recent study examined child support calculations in different states by considering a hypothetical couple: a father who makes $55,000 a year and a mother who makes $45,000 a year with two children who would primarily live with the mother following the couple’s divorce. This example case was used to determine how child support would be calculated for this couple throughout the country.

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Unmarried parents and those going through divorce often seek child support through the courts. Historically, this has been based upon the number of children the parents share and the amount of parenting time each parent receives has been given little consideration. New changes to Illinois' child support laws, which are set to take effect July 2017, are expected to change this. Learn more about these changes and how they may affect your child support or divorce case.

Illinois is Moving from Percentages to Shares

The current law uses percentages to calculate child support. For example, if a couple shares three children, a paying parent would typically be required to pay 32 percent of his or her income to the receiving parent. The new law is moving Illinois to a shares model. This essentially means that support will be calculated by examining the income of both parents. Responsibility will then be divided into shares based upon each parent's expected contribution (determined using similar-income intact families).

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