Child support in Illinois is governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, and an update to this law went into effect July 2017. Before this change, Illinois used a somewhat antiquated method of calculating the amount of child support payments—only the paying parent’s income and the number of children being supported were considered.
Since this model no longer reflected the actual costs of raising children, the state moved to an income-sharing model that bases child support on both parents’ incomes.
Understanding the New “Income Shares” Method
The new law uses what many consider to be a more equitable and accurate method of determining child support. To calculate the amount of child support, courts will first determine the net monthly income of each parent. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has provided a Gross to Net Income Conversion Table that will aid in the determination of net income based on standardized tax amounts, but in some cases, it may be necessary to calculate net income individually.
Adding the net income of both parents together will result in a combined net income, and the court will also determine the percentage share that each parent contributes to the combined income.
The key figure for child support is the Basic Support Obligation, which is the amount that the parents would have spent to care for their children had they remained married. This figure is determined using a table called the Income Shares Schedule, which is also provided by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The amount of this obligation will be divided between the two parents according to each parent’s individual percentage share of the combined income.
The non-custodial parent will pay his or her portion of the obligation to the custodial parent, and courts presume that the custodial parent will be directly using the income he or she earns to care for the children. The cost of children’s health insurance premiums may also be divided between the parents based on each parent’s percentage share.
Shared Physical Care occurs when children stay overnight with each parent at least 146 days each year (that is, 40 percent of the time or more). In these cases, additional calculations will be necessary to divide the Basic Support Obligation between parents based on each parent’s percentage of overnight stays.
An Example Scenario
Consider a sample case in which a divorcing couple named Dave and Amy have two children. Dave’s gross income is $5,000 per month, and Amy’s gross income is $3,000 per month, and the children will be staying with Amy the majority of the time.
Using the Gross to Net Income Conversion Table, Dave’s net income as the non-custodial parent is $3,759. Amy’s net income as the custodial parent of two children is $2,499. Adding these two figures together makes a combined net income of $6,258. Dave’s percentage share of this combined income is 60.1 percent, and Amy’s percentage share is 39.9 percent.
The Income Shares Schedule shows that the Basic Support Obligation for two children at the combined income of $6,258 is $1,599. Multiplying this amount by each parent’s percentage share results in $961 for Dave and $638 for Amy. Since Amy is the custodial parent, Dave will pay Amy child support of $961 each month.
Contact a Wheaton Child Support Attorney
Determining the correct amount of child support payments under the new law will help you ensure that you have a complete understanding of your financial situation following your divorce.
If you have any questions about how to calculate child support after your divorce, or if you want to know your options for modifying an existing child support order, the experienced family law attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help. Contact a Wheaton child support lawyer at 630-653-9400 to schedule a free consultation.