There are two instances when child support is awarded to parents in Illinois: when parents get divorced or when unmarried parents have a child together. If you are an unmarried parent or soon will be, you may be wondering how you can receive support payments from your child’s other parent. If the child’s biological father has not been officially named the legal father of the child, you will have to establish parentage through the court before requesting child support.
How to Establish Paternity in Illinois
When a married couple has a baby, Illinois law assumes that the husband of the woman who gave birth to the child is the father. However, when an unmarried woman gives birth, there is no assumption of paternity. Parentage can be established through one of several ways. If neither party doubts the paternity of the child, the two parents can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). This document allows the father to be named on the birth certificate but does not address issues of child support, parenting time, or allocation of parental responsibilities. Another method for establishing parentage is for either parent to file a Petition to Establish Parentage through the county court and participate in the subsequent proceedings. Lastly, parents may seek an Administrative Paternity Order to be established and entered by Healthcare and Family Services’ Child Support Services.
How Will Child Support Amounts Be Decided?
Once legal parentage is established, child support matters can be decided. Since July 1, 2017, Illinois courts have made child support decisions based on an "income shares" model. Under this model, each parent’s income in relation to the parents’ combined income is used to calculate a fair and reasonable child support amount. Factors such as healthcare, parenting time (visitation), and other elements may influence the final child support obligation, but the base child support obligation is mostly decided based on the combined net income of both parents. A parent who wishes to change a child support order must file a petition for modification of the child support order though the county court. Generally, only a major change in financial circumstances, employment, or disability will justify a modification to an established child support order....