Sharing the Financial Cost of Raising a Child
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
The average financial cost of raising a child until the age of 18 was estimated at around $240,000 last year, excluding the cost of a college education. While the joy a child can bring cannot be measured in financial terms, this amount of money can be unmanageable for most parents without some form of assistance. For single parents, the financial assistance from the other parent, primarily in the form of compelled child support, can be invaluable and help them stay afloat.
Calculating Child Support
In Illinois, child support is awarded by the Court and the minimum amount is primarily calculated according to percentages depending on the number of children supported by the non-custodial parent. Other factors to be considered include the monthly income of the non-custodial parent, if the non-custodial parent has other monthly child support or alimony obligations, and any health care payments being paid by the parent.
Nevertheless, the minimum the non-custodial parent will pay by law is as follows:
Number of Children Percentage of Income
6 or more
A judge may deviate from this guideline only if it is in the best interest of the child. A judge who decides to do this has to consider other factors to arrive at the amount to award. Additionally, in considering the net income of the non-custodial parent, the court takes into consideration certain deductions that the parent has to pay.
When child support is ordered, the court may order the non-custodial parent to make the payments directly to the custodial parent, or may require the payments to go through the Illinois State Disbursement Unit (SDU). For parents who do not get along, the latter may be the best way for the payments to be sent out and received. This is also the most likely way to facilitate payments through employer withholding.
If an employer has received a court order to withhold an amount from the non-custodial parent's pay to satisfy a child support award, they can send the withheld amount to the SDU for disbursement to the custodial parent. Once the SDU receives any child support payment, they usually can send the payment to the custodial parent within 48 hours.
In some cases, for tax purposes, it may be more prudent to go with unallocated support as opposed to traditional child support. Under this kind of support, the money paid in child support is tax deductible, and subject to various IRS guidelines because it in essence shifts the parent's tax bracket. If done properly, this kind of support may result in more money for both parties. You should consult an attorney experienced in these kinds of cases to see how and if this may work best for you.
Child Support and Visitation
Child support is not tied to visitation rights. Therefore, even if the non-custodial parent is in arrears, the custodial parent cannot limit or modify an existing visitation order without the court's intervention. The correct thing to do in a situation where the non-custodial parent is not paying court ordered child support is to return to court and ask the court to intervene.
Contact an Attorney
If you are the non-custodial parent of one or more minor children, contact the experienced Illinois family law attorneys at Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC for a free consultation. Depending on the facts of your case, we may be able to help structure your support payments so they are manageable. Similarly, if you are a parent seeking a child support award, we can help you get the assistance you need.