Illinois Child Support Basics
NOTE: A new Illinois law governing how child support is calculated went into effect in July 2017. Please visit our child support page for details
With the recent significant changes to spousal support and parenting laws in Illinois, some may labor under a belief that the child support laws changed as well. In reality, the child support regulations have not changed in any major respect recently.
How Much Do I Pay?
Not every divorce involves child support payments; in rare situations, a judge may decide that one parent requires no additional income in order to provide a life that is in the best interests of the child. However, in the significant majority of cases, a judge will order the non-custodial parent to contribute monetarily based on the formula adopted by the state of Illinois.
These guidelines are fairly simple: for example, if a couple has two children, the recommended support amount is approximately 28 percent of the non-custodial parent's net income (that is, income after taxes). However, it is important to remember that these are only guidelines, not hard and fast rules; a judge may raise or lower the amount depending on the facts of an individual case. Factors that may cause a judge to award more or less support include a child's needs (for example, if a child is disabled, adaptive equipment or therapies must be paid for), debt on the part of the non-custodial parent, or unexpected expenses like insurance not covering required care.
How Do I Pay?
Parents may become confused about how and when to pay support, especially if they also are required to pay spousal maintenance. Usually, support is withheld from a parent's paycheck by his or her employer, after completion of the relevant paperwork. It is possible to make the payments in other ways, but income withholding is by far the most common.
If you miss a payment, however, regardless of the method by which you are providing support, you may face serious consequences. The courts will not immediately act; generally, the custodial parent must file a motion to compel support. However, if this occurs, a myriad of possible punitive consequences may happen. This includes wage garnishment, liens placed on your property (such as your house or car), or even being held in contempt of court, which can result in jail time. It is possible to work out a change to your support payments after a certain period, but you must be able to prove that a ‘substantial' change in circumstances has occurred between the entering of the order and the current time.
An Illinois Child Support Attorney Can Assist
Most parents work hard to pay child support payments, because it is the most direct way they can make a positive contribution to their child's life. If you have questions about your support order, or if you have fallen behind on your payments, then it is best to consult an experienced attorney. The Wheaton, Illinois child support attorneys at MKFM Law are happy to help you work through a process that can be confusing and time-consuming at the best moments. Contact us at 630-665-7300 today to discuss your options.