how child support is calculated
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STG Divorce Law

How Child Support Is Calculated in Illinois

Updated 03/01/2022

Whether or not you and your partner were married, both parents have an obligation to support their children financially. The state of Illinois has established specific child support guidelines that all the courts have to follow to calculate how much child support one parent pays to the other. 

It’s a simple question, but the answer is anything but. Many who divorce or suffer through a separation wonder how child support is calculated in Illinois, and how those calculations work. The state has different services designed to help individuals seeking child support that you can take advantage of. 

This guide will go over everything you need to know about calculating child support and provides practical advice for estimating monthly payment amounts.

How is the Amount of Child Support Determined?

In Illinois, child support is based on the average cost of raising a child and the basic obligation to provide for the appropriate and necessary physical, mental, and emotional needs of the child. It does not consider any of the “extras” that many but not all children grow up enjoying. The court determines this number using specific guidelines set out in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Prior to a 2017 reform, child support was calculated on a percentage system meaning a certain percentage of the non-custodial parent’s net income was paid as child support. For child support orders entered after July 1, 2017, the court now relies on an income share model – a system used in the majority of states.

The Purpsoe & Benefits of the Income Share Model

Under the income share model of calculating child support in Illinois, both parents have an obligation to support their child and through this new more equitable approach, the incomes of both parents are considered rather than only the income of the non-custodial parent. The goal of this new system is to allocate support for the child as if the parents and child were still living in an intact home, and using the combined net income of the parents allows the court to do that. The primary benefit of this approach is it puts the needs of the child first.

Whenever child-related issues come up in divorce cases, the courts and law of Illinois will always lean towards what is in the “best interest of the child”.

Determining Net Income

The first step in calculating support under the income shares model is for the court to determine the monthly net income of both parents by subtracting either a standardized or individualized tax amount from monthly gross income.

Determine the Correct Amount of Net Income

The child support guidelines set by the state of Illinois states that the noncustodial parent has to pay a percentage of their net income for child support. The percentage that they have to pay is based on how many children there are. 

As a practical matter, courts in Illinois never use individualized calculation for net income preferring to use the gross to net income chart instead.

2022 Gross to Net Income Conversion Table Using Standardized Tax Amounts

Calculate the Amount of Child Support

After combining the net incomes, the court will apply that number to the obligation schedule. The obligation schedule is organized using net income and the number of children.

The number that corresponds with the correct net income and number of children is the total basic support obligation – the amount that parents would typically spend to care for their children if they had remained married.

The basic support obligation is then divided between the two parents based on their percentage share of the combined net income. The non-custodial parent will pay their obligation to the custodial parent. The custodial parent’s share is presumed to be spent directly on the child and is not payable to the other parent.

You can determine your own basic support obligation by using the child support worksheet, net income, income share charts, and calculator provided by the state. While the online estimator provides rough numbers, it is generally pretty close to what you would actually be required to pay (or receive) in child support.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Below are some common questions we get asked regarding child support in Illinois. 

What is Child Support Used For?

Child support is for various expenses for your children. This can include:

  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Housing
  • Activities
  • Transportation

It’s important to note that the noncustodial parent needs to also contribute to their child’s daycare and medical care on top of paying child support. The custodial parent is also often required to contribute funds for other expenses as well. 

While child support needs to support a child, there’s no way to guarantee how the custodial parent will spend that money. They won’t be ordered by the court to show how they spend the child support funds. 

Can I Modify an Existing Child Support Amount?

Child support can get modified. There are a few reasons as to why it can be changed, including:

  • A change in the noncustodial parent’s income
  • A change in the timeshare
  • A change in the needs of the child

If you believe you have a change in circumstance that would affect the amount of child support being paid, you should seek to have it recalculated. 

Is Child Support Tax Deductible?

Child support is not tax-deductible. This is because it’s included in the noncustodial parent’s taxable income. Additionally, it’s not taxable as income for the custodial parent. 

Are There Penalties for Not Paying Child Support?

There are severe penalties if you fail to pay child support. You can also be penalized for paying less than what you were ordered to pay. 

In extreme circumstances, you can go to jail. Some other penalties include:

  • Tax refund interceptions 
  • Financial penalties 
  • Business license restrictions
  • Passport and drivers licenses seizure  

If you have problems making child support payments, you should address the situation as quickly as possible. 

Contact STG Divorce Law for Help With Child Support in Illinois 

When you’re going through a painful divorce, the last thing you need to do is try to figure out the guidelines around child support in Illinois. You need an experienced person on your side that can handle everything for you. Trust in STG Divorce Law to help you with all aspects of your divorce and custody arrangements. 

Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. 

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