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Stunning Change in Illinois Child Support Law

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For the first time in nearly 35 years, the child support laws in the state of Illinois have been completely modified. It used to be that one parent paid virtually all of the child support to the other parent. This way of calculating child support could clearly be unfair when the parent receiving the child support already had substantial income.

So, the new law recognizes the fact that both parents may have income to contribute to the support of their children. In fact, it is generally referred to as a new "income shares model."

As of July 1, 2017, the new way of calculating child support went into effect. The math involves several steps that take into account the particular facts of both parents' situations; these steps, as stated in a much longer statute (750 ILCS 5/505), are summarized as outlined below:

  1. The net monthly incomes of both parents are determined and they are then added together;
  2. The total of the two incomes is then matched to a schedule of child-rearing costs, which is essentially based upon data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics;
  3. Once the cost of raising a child or children is determined, the cost is then proportioned to the ratio of the parties' incomes;
  4. Finally, while the parent who has the majority of the parenting time obviously receives the support payment, the payment by the payor is now reduced. This is because there is a presumption the person receiving support will contribute from their earnings to care for the child as well. So, each parent ultimately pays in proportion to the amount of time he/she actually has parenting time. 

Fundamentally, the new calculation is (1) a simple ratio of the parents' incomes that is (2) then applied to the pre-determined cost of raising a child at their income level.

As a result, it is more fair than all of the child support calculations during the last three decades. The new approach also no longer uses an automatic percentage of just one person's income. Instead, the new law focuses on the actual cost of raising a child, and adjusts a little bit - but not a lot - based on the two parents' total incomes.

On the other hand, child support can't be calculated until the parenting schedule and both parents' incomes are establhished. So, one drawback is that complete and accurate calculations cannot be done on a case until both (1) a parenting schedule is established and (2) incomes for both parents are known. 

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