Modification of a Child Support Order in Illinois
If you make child support payments or receive them for your child, you undoubtedly recognize the importance of your obligation. Regardless of what happened between you and the other parent, your child is entitled to support from both parents. When a child support order is entered by the court, it is imperative for the supporting parent to comply with the order. It is equally important for the recipient parent to use the payments to support the child.
Over time, however, many families will come to a point where the terms of the support order no longer match the circumstances of their situation. In such cases, either parent may petition the court to have the order modified so that the child’s current needs can be addressed.
Sometimes, a child support order may become obsolete or unmanageable almost instantaneously. This could happen for a number of reasons, some of which may be welcome changes, but many of which are not. For example, if your child is diagnosed with a serious, chronic medical condition that will incur tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and treatment, the child’s needs will obviously change. Similarly—though less drastic—if you, the supporting parent, are suddenly laid off or injured and unable to work, your ability to make payments may be directly impacted.
When requesting a modification of a child support order, the filing party must show that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the existing order was entered. If the court determines the change to be substantial enough to warrant a modification, it will recalculate a new support obligation based upon the current situation.
The 20 Percent Rule
In other cases, the life changes take place much more gradually, manifesting themselves over the course of several years. It is reasonable, for example, for a supporting parent to receive incremental raises each year without necessarily being promoted. A cost-of-living increase may not be enough to be a significant change in circumstances, but over time, the cumulative effect may be substantial. With that in mind, Illinois law offers an additional basis for a child support order modification. If using the calculation formula provided in the law based on the current circumstances would result in a difference of at least 20 percent—and not less than $10 per month—from the existing order, the court may grant a modification. However, if the 20 percent difference is due to a court-approved mitigating factor or deviation which is still valid, the court will deny the modification request.
When a modification is approved, it is entered as a court order and becomes fully enforceable under the law. Failure to comply with a modified support order can result in serious consequences to the offending party.
If you are currently subject to a child support order that you believe may be out of date, an experienced DuPage County child support attorney can help you pursue a modification. Call MKFM Law at 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation today.