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Illinois Child Support Overview 2021

In this article, we discuss the obligation of both parents to support their children and give an overview of Illinois child support laws in 2021. We talk about how Illinois child support is calculated, how support can be modified and what could happen if a party falls behind or fails to pay child support.

In this article, we discuss the obligation of both parents to support their children and give an overview of Illinois child support laws in 2021. We talk about how Illinois  child support is calculated, how support can be modified and what could happen if a party falls behind or fails to pay child support.

How is Child Support Calculated in Illinois?

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Both parents have an ongoing obligation to support their children – financially, physically and emotionally. The parent awarded residential status is generally entitled to receive support from the non-custodial parent. While child support in both divorce cases and parentage cases was previously calculated as a percentage of the paying parent’s income, it is now, as of July 2017, based on both the paying parent’s income and the recipient parent’s income. Income, for purposes of child support calculations, includes considering deductions for taxes, insurance, retirement and other considerations. Additionally, the parties’ Allocation Judgment, specifically the parenting time schedule, affects the final calculation as well.

In addition to the parties’ finances, the court will consider the following factors in setting child support:

-       The physical and emotional condition of the child and his or her educational needs;

-       The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage/civil union had not divorced; and

-       The financial resources of the child.

What if I’m paying child support on additional cases?

When calculating support, courts are allowed to consider adjustments based on multiple support orders. In other words, if child support is being considered in a case that is currently pending, and the paying party has a previously-entered support order on a separate matter, the current court can consider the monthly child support payments paid to the prior case as a deduction in determining the paying parent’s current child support obligation. An adjustment can also be requested for a multi-family adjustment without a court order, but said adjustment is at the discretion of the court.

How Can Illinois Child Support Be Modified?

Either party can petition the court to modify an existing child support order on the showing of a substantial change in circumstances. Generally, a “substantial change” is found where a parties’ income or employment changes, the child being supported graduates high school or turns eighteen, whichever comes later, or another support terminating event. The court can also award, separate from statutory child support, contribution to the post-secondary education, as required by statute, for the parties’ child.

What Happens When Illinois Child Support is Not Paid?

Child support cannot be withheld. If circumstances dictate that support cannot be paid, or that it cannot be paid in full as ordered, there are avenues available for the paying party as mentioned above. That said, each monthly child support payment is considered an individual obligation and, when not paid, is considered a separate judgment for collection and interest-calculating purposes.

Just like parenting time cannot be withheld if a party fails to pay child support, child support cannot be withheld if parenting time is being withheld. The two are separate issues and the courts will not consider the withholding of one as justification for the withholding of the other. It would, however, stand to reason that a party would be more likely to stay current in his or her support obligation if their visitation occurs without issue from the other parent.

If you are the recipient of child support pursuant to a court order and the other party is not paying, court intervention may be sought in the form of a petition seeking a contempt ruling. Once such a petition is filed, the burden of proof shifts to the other parent to show reason, if any, why his or her refusal to comply with the child support order is with justified or compelling cause. If the court deems their failure to comply as having occurred without compelling cause or legal justification, they can be found in contempt, which can result in sanctions such as their having to pay your legal fees, a body attachment being issued and their incarceration.

If you feel you’re in a situation requiring legal advice and guidance on what’s been discussed in this article, please feel free to contact our office to schedule a free consultation.

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