A combination of factors are assessed to determine the amount of child support a non-custodial parent should pay to the custodial parent. One of the biggest factors the court will consider is the level of income of the non-custodial parent. While payments or settlements from workers’ compensation are not considered income when filing your federal income taxes, they are considered income when determining the ability to pay child support and the amount that should be paid.
Illinois Law & Workers’ Compensation
“Net Income,” as defined by Illinois law, is “the total of all income from all sources,” although certain allowable deductions are specified in the statute. The law concerning income and child support in Illinois takes the best interest of the child or children involved into consideration. It also examines the standard of living for the children had the parents not divorced.
There is one question that can help to determine whether income should be included in the child support equation. If the parents were not divorced, would the children benefit from the income? In the case of workers’ compensation payments, as the Supreme Court of Illinois determined in Mayfield vs. Mayfield, the answer is a resounding yes.
Would Children Benefit if the Parents Were Still Married?
In Mayfield vs. Mayfield, wherein a $300,000 workers’ compensation settlement was in question, the court concluded that workers’ compensation is, in fact, part of “net income,” because “it improves a parent’s economic situation at the time of the payment.” This conclusion held firm, despite arguments from Mr. Mayfield that the settlement was meant to compensate him for the next 34 years.
The bottom line came down to whether or not the children would have benefitted from the money if the parents were still married. Mr. Mayfield had received the money in a lump sum, and if the children and Mrs. Mayfield still lived with him, they would have experienced the monetary changes in his life, as well. Mrs. Mayfield was awarded 20 percent of the entire settlement for child support by the Supreme Court of Illinois.
Child Support Modifications
There are several reasons why a child support order might need to be modified, including increases or decreases in income, changes of the needs of a child, and, sometimes, large, one-time payments, including workers’ compensation settlements or inheritances. Some modifications to child support orders are temporary, while others are permanent, depending on the situation.
Child support orders can be stressful and emotionally taxing for the parents and the children involved. However, they are necessary to maintain a financially responsible balance and stability in the children’s lives. While support orders or modifications may seem unfair, once they are in place, the lives of the children often improve for the better.
At Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C. in Wheaton, Illinois, we understand child support is a highly emotional and stressful issue. Our DuPage County family law attorneys will be there to guide you, as stress-free as possible, through the process smoothly. If you have any questions about child support orders or modifications, please contact us today. We will help you understand your rights and work out a mutual child support agreement with which you can live.