A Look At the New Illinois 'Income Shares' Child Support Model

Illinois family courts are using a new "income shares" formula to determine the amount of child support a noncustodial parent pays to a custodial parent. Under the new law, which went into effect July 1, both parents' incomes will be considered when calculating the amount of child support a noncustodial parent pays to a custodial parent.

Previously, child support in Illinois was calculated by taking the paying parent's net income (gross income minus taxes and other deductions) and applying a certain percentage based on the number of minor children. For example, a noncustodial parent with one minor child would pay 20 percent of net income in child support; a noncustodial parent with two minor children would pay 28 percent of net income.

Under the new Illinois law, the court will determine the parents' combined net income, determine what percentages of the combined net income each parent represents and plug that into an income shares chart that will determine the basic child support obligation a monthly amount that needs to be applied to child support. Once the basic child support obligation is obtained, that number is multiplied by the percentage of combined net income that each parent's income represents to determine how much each parent contributes per month.

Benefits of the income shares model

Proponents of the income shares model, which is used in most states, argue the process does a better job of addressing each child's needs while also taking into account the financial resources of each parent. The old law only considered the paying parent's income. The new law strives to provide each child the same amount of support he or she would receive if the parents were together.

Other changes tied to the new child support law are important to understand. For example:

  • If a parent is currently paying court-ordered child support in a separate and unrelated case, the amount being paid in that situation will be deducted from the parent's gross income.
  • If one parent is paying spousal maintenance to the other parent, that amount is subtracted from the paying parent's gross income and added to the receiving parent's gross income before calculating each parent's net income.
  • If parents split parenting time equally, the actual number of overnights each parent has with the children will be taken into consideration when calculating child support.

Modifying an existing order

Under the new law, a previous child support order may be modified if there is a "substantial change in circumstances." However, the 2017 change in child support law, by itself, is not considered a substantial change in circumstances.

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