A back view of two kids, child support

Calculating child support in Illinois is no longer a simple matter of calculating percentages. Beginning in July 1, 2017, courts in the state will begin using new calculations that are designed to make sharing the expenses of raising children more equitable.

Existing child support guidelines require non-custodial parents to pay 20% of their income for their children. This increases to 28% for two children, and 32% for three children. These guidelines will cease being used on December 31st.

New Child Support Guidelines

The new child support guidelines that are going into effect on January 1st allow the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to estimate how much it costs to raise a specific number of children. This calculation will be adjusted annually to take into account inflation and overall cost of living in the state. Once calculated, the formula is used to determine the pro rata share of these expenses that each parent should be responsible for, based on their net income. This calculation follows the formulas used in 38 other states.

The new formula also takes into account the amount of parenting time the child spends with each parent. If one parent spends more time with the children, the court can reduce the amount of child support they are required to pay. The guidelines set the threshold for child support reductions at a minimum of 146 nights per year.

This new “income share” formula is intended to increase the number of collaborative divorces in the state. The purpose of the new formulas is to encourage parents to more equitably share the expenses and responsibilities of raising children in divorced homes.

Ongoing Considerations in Child Support Calculations

As with existing guidelines, the new guidelines will continue to take into account the financial needs of the child, the resources of both parents, and the standard of living that the child could have expected if the parents had remained married. The new guidelines will also continue to take into account calculations based on the child(ren)’s educational needs, and any specific needs related to medical care, etc.

The new guidelines are not retroactive. However, parents can petition to modify their existing child support orders based on a substantial change in circumstances. Substantial changes include loss of or increase in income, marriage, significant health issues, etc. These changes in circumstance should be thoroughly documented and presented to the court by a child support attorney in Chicago.