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New Child Support Rules Coming to Illinois

Posted on in Child Support

DuPage County family law attorneysThis summer, the state of Illinois will be changing the way in which child support is calculated throughout the state. The changes are certain to affect future child support orders and are likely to be applied to existing orders if and when the time comes to review them for possible modifications.

There are several important things you should know about the new law—especially if you are considering a divorce and child support could soon be a reality for you:

Both Parents’ Income

Perhaps the biggest change that the new approach will bring is that under the new guidelines, both parents’ income must be taken into account when making the calculation. The existing formula is primarily dependent on the paying parent’s income. Supporters of the change maintain that the present method is very one-sided and, in many cases, unfair to the supporting parent.

Under the new model, the court must account for in the income of both parents to better estimate the financial situation the child would have expected if the parents had remained together. This model—known as “income shares”—is currently used by more than three dozen other states.

Shared Parenting Time

The new guidelines also provide for a more equitable child support order by taking into account the time child spends with each parent. The law recognizes that the supporting parent must also provide normal living expenses during the time that the child stays in his or her home. Thus, a mechanism has been added to account for the additional expenses in certain cases. At present, the law is silent on shared parenting situation, meaning that parents could have equal parenting time with little or no impact on the ordered support payments.

Imputed Income

As a result of the current law basing support payments on only one parent’s income, it is not uncommon for an unscrupulous parent to remain intentionally unemployed or underemployed. Currently, such tactics may be used as an attempt to limit child support obligations. For those who diligently pay support as obligated, it can be very frustrating if the receiving parent intentionally refuses to work as well.

Going forward, the new law will statutorily allow the court to impute a parent’s income, meaning that calculations can be based on a parent’s potential income if he or she is found to be intentionally unemployed or underemployed. To estimate a parent’s potential income, the court may rely on past work history and testimony from vocational experts, as well as medical testimony regarding any obstacles to employment.

Changes in Circumstances

The present guidelines and the new rules both provide that an existing order for child support can be modified if there is a substantial change in the family’s circumstances—the loss of a job, for example, or a newly diagnosed illness. The new law itself does not constitute a change in circumstances, so support orders developed under the existing law will remain in effect until the court determines that a modification is necessary and appropriate.

If you have questions about child support laws in Illinois, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call Pesce Law Group, P.C. at 630-352-2240 for a free, confidential consultation today. We will help you find the answers you need and work with you in protecting your rights as a parent.


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