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A new child support law in Illinois that went into effect July 1, 2017, significantly changes the formula used to determine child support payments in divorce cases. The new law requires courts to consider both the income of divorcing parents and the amount of time each parent spends with their children. The law provides for a division of time referred to as “parenting” time with each parent. The more time a parent spends with their children, the less their child support payments will be. The new law is not retroactive, but divorce and support cases finalized after July 1, 2017, or modified at some time in the future will be subject to the new “visitation” formula for establishing child support payments.

The “income shares” model

With the new law, Illinois adopts an “income shares” approach that is already used by many other states. With the income shares model, courts reference economic tables of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (IDHS) to decide how much money should be allocated to child care. The amount is based on how much money the couple would spend on raising the children if they were still married. Each parent is then responsible for their share of this total amount according to their incomes. Under the new law, some parents will pay more and some will see a lower financial obligation than they would under the previous formula.

“Shared parenting” situations

If each parent has the child or children for at least 146 overnight stays in the year, the new law defines that as a “shared parenting”. The amount of time each parent spends in a “shard parenting” situation with children is a factor in child support payments. The time a parent spends with their children does not become a factor unless a146 overnights per year threshold are met.

Courts can deviate from IDHS guidelines

Courts must always base decisions on what they consider the best interests of the child. The new law allows courts to deviate from IDHS guidelines if the court finds applying those guidelines would be contrary to what is in the best interest of any children involved in the case. The best divorce lawyers can advise parents considering divorce on how the new law may affect their situation.