a kid coving his eyes, child supportThe income shares method of calculating child support is the most commonly used method in the United States. More than 38 states use this method, and Illinois will use it to replace the old percentage of obligor model on July 1, 2017. This new method calculates child support based on the gross income of both parents. The projected after-tax income for each parent and total net income for the family is calculated and used to determine the amount of child support owed.

Allocation of payments

Formerly, child support payments were based on the number of children and percentage of the total income from each parent. The newly implemented income sharing approach allows for adjustments to child support payments in cases where the two parties share parenting responsibilities. In 2016, Illinois dropped the old approach of visitation and custody for determining child support. The new law bases decisions on allocation of parental responsibilities.

A Chicago divorce lawyer can explain how these changes may affect divorce and child custody cases already in progress. The deciding judge may use a shared child care support obligation in situations where the child or children live at the physical residence of one parent for a minimum of 146 nights of the year. The judge will then adjust payments down according to the percentage of time the child or children are with the non-primary parent.

Shared custody

Divorce does not always result in one person having primary custody of the children while the other parent has visitations. Parents often share custody. Each divorce and child custody case is different. Parents may have very different work schedules and vastly different incomes. The old percentage of obligor method of determining child support lacked the adjustment options of the newly implemented income shares approach. Under the income share guidelines, the person identified as the non-custodial parent will typically get a deduction from their support obligation based on the amount of additional time they spend with their children. This is usually for any time more than a third of the year. A Chicago divorce attorney can provide information and guidance based on individual situations. Family court judges use many factors to reach their decisions. Each family has its own particulars based on work schedules and incomes that must be considered.

Why switch to the income shares model?

The primary intent of the income shares model is that the same percentage of the divorcing parents’ income should go toward children as would be spent on them if the family had remained together. For many people, the amount of child support is essentially the same under the income shares guidelines as it would be with the obligor income model.

One shortcoming of the obligor income method was that it did not allow for adjustments when both parents have a significant amount of parenting time with their children. In situations where one or more of the children live with a different parent than the other child or children, the income shares model provides a mechanism for shared parenting time to be part of the calculations. Shared parenting is increasingly common, but certain minimum thresholds must be met to establish shared parenting. A Chicago divorce lawyer is knowledgeable about the particular requirements of the newly implemented income shares approach.

The income shares approach is considered much more equitable when there is a significant difference in the income amounts of the two parents. A basic child support obligation is calculated on both incomes. After that number has been determined, a presumptive child support obligation is computed based on work-related child care expenses. This presumptive child support amount is then prorated between the two parents based on their share of the total combined income.

The income shares approach for calculating child support payments is also preferable in cases where one or both parents have unusually high or very low incomes. There was no way to consider these factors in the obligor income model. Parents who have questions about how considerations are made in these instances should consult a Chicago divorce lawyer.

Most importantly, the new system allows both parents to begin with a full understanding of what two parents with their combined income can expect to spend rearing children. They can see by the charts what their portion of expenses should be. Knowing these numbers going into the process of determining child support payments helps all parties feel better about the process.

This perceived fairness increases parental compliance of child support rulings. Instead of a flat percentage, income shares allows for adjustments based on children’s ages, varying income of the parents, healthcare costs, and other factors. The income shares model recognizes that as a family’s income increases, the percentage of that income needed for child support decreases.