Every parent has an obligation to support his or her children. Support can come in many forms, from emotional support and encouragement to providing the day to day necessities of life. While the law cannot force individuals to be loving parents, it can and does make parents kick in their share of the financial costs it takes to raise a child.
If you’re divorcing in Illinois and have children, or if you are involved in a paternity action, it is important to know the basics of child support. Once you have a broad understanding of the applicable law, you can be better equipped to explain your case to an Illinois family law attorney and get the legal assistance you need.
At its base level, child support is meant to provide for the things every child needs – food, clothing, a roof over their head. In some cases, a court will order supplemental support to pay for expenses of raising a child beyond basic necessities.
So who pays child support? In Illinois, child support is set based on the financial situation of the parents, the needs of the children and other factors, like the amount of time the child spends with each parent in custody arrangements. Given the right circumstances, either parent may have to pay child support regardless of custody arrangements.
Under Illinois law, the amount of child support is typically determined by a formula that takes into account the payer’s net income (essentially what that parent makes after taxes, health insurance premiums and certain other obligations). Parents can set an amount of child support that does not conform to the formula by reaching a negotiated agreement, but the court has to approve any such agreement, and generally will not do so if the amount falls below that set by the formula.
For one child, Illinois guidelines require the payer to contribute 20 percent of his or her net income. For two children, the percentage is increased to 28 percent. The percentage of net income that must be devoted to child support continues to increase progressively based on the number of children to a maximum of 50 percent for six or more children.
Child support obligations expire on the child’s 18th birthday or upon his or her graduation from high school. Whichever of these events occurs later marks end of child support obligations. Until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, the only way the amount stated in the original child support order can be changed is by seeking a modification through the court. Parents can agree to a modification amount if the court approves of it, but if there is no agreement, the court will only modify a child support order if the parent requesting the change can prove that things have changed substantially.
While the Illinois method for setting child support may seem formulaic, the court can only set child support based on the information provided to it. Therefore, a complete and accurate picture of both parents’ financial status must be painted through the introduction of evidence. For instance, if either party attempts to hide assets or income, the court may never know about it if all the facts are not uncovered and presented properly.
When it comes to child support, you need a strong legal advocate by your side to ensure you get a fair shake in court. Talk to an Illinois family law attorney today about your child support case.