Illinois Child Support: Understanding the New Income Shares Model

For three decades, Illinois has been calculating child support by using a ‘percentage of income’ formula that applies a set amount of 20% to 50% to the supporting parent’s income. On July 1, 2017, when Public Act 99-0764 comes into effect, it will convert to the ‘Income Shares’ model that is already being used by thirty-nine other states, in addition to Washington D.C., Guam and the Virgin Islands.

The Income Shares model is based on the assumption that in intact families, both parents contribute to child care expenses. To determine how much child support must be paid in a particular instance, the courts will have to consider factors like the following:

  • The custodial parent’s income
  • Parenting time schedules
  • Additional expenses carried by both parents
  • Working history or working potential for both

They will also use a table that suggests the percentage of combined net income that parents who remain married would typically spend on their children. These include ordinary expenses such as food, shelter, clothing, and transportation. It does not cover health care, extracurricular activities, daycare costs, and educational expenses, which the court may order and prorate separately.

How Child Support Is Calculated Under the New Statute

Under the new statute, courts will calculate child support by:

  1. Calculating the combined income of both parents
  2. Using the table to determine a support amount based on their combined income
  3. Adjusting this basic amount if advisable
  4. Prorating each parent’s support obligation based on their proportionate share of combined income
  5. Ordering the parent with the higher obligation to pay the other parent any difference in support

The Income Shares model permits deviation from the standard guidelines when a child has special needs or unusual educational or medical expenses. Judges also have the discretion to deviate when applying the model would be unfair or inappropriate, or if the parents’ combined gross income is so high that it exceeds the listed levels.

In addition, the more overnights a parent has in shared parenting cases, the less support they may have to remit to their former spouse. In Illinois, adjustments can only be made if the number of overnights exceeds 146 per year.

Differences Between the Old and New Guidelines

A major difference between the current guidelines and the Income Shares model is that the latter takes both parents’ income into account while the former only refers to the net income of the obligor. The current guidelines also apply a flat percentage of the paying parent’s income, while income sharing requires both parents to assume responsibility for their prorated share of support.

The Effect on Existing Obligations

Public Act 99-0764 indicates that its enactment does not constitute a substantial change in circumstances for the purposes of modifying a prior support order. However, if a parent petitions the court for a modification due to a substantial change in circumstances such as reduced salary, a judge may apply the new statute’s guidelines to the modified order.

If you are presently paying child support or about to file for a divorce that will later require support payments, please contact Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC at 847-387-5559. We will give you advice appropriate to your circumstances and can either seek a modification or represent you in your divorce action.

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Written by Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC

Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC

Lake Cook Legal Solutions has been helping people throughout Lake, Cook, McHenry, and DuPage counties since 2012. We focus our practice on matters involving Illinois families—namely Family Law and Estate Planning.