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Plainfield Child Support AttorneyOriginally published: May 11, 2020 -- Updated: August 25, 2021

UPDATE: Parents who have experienced financial issues that have affected their ability to pay child support will want to take the correct steps to avoid the issues described below. This has been a major concern for many parents during the COVID-19 pandemic, and those who have lost their jobs or who have experienced health issues that have affected the income they are able to earn will want to make sure they take the proper measures to avoid penalties for failing to meet their financial obligations.

Family courts will often recognize financial hardship experienced by parents, but unless a parent takes action to inform the court of these issues, they will be required to follow the terms of their child support order. This means they must continue making monthly payments, and in addition to making up any missed payments, they may also be required to pay interest on these past-due amounts. To avoid these issues, a parent can file a petition for a modification of their child support obligations as soon as they have experienced financial issues that affect their ability to pay. While the court may not immediately grant a request for modification, any modifications that are made may be retroactive to the date the modification request was filed. 

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DuPage County divorce attorney child support

Most people in today’s world would agree that raising a child is the job of both parents, rather than just one. However, when the parents are not together because of divorce or another reason, raising a child can become complicated, especially as it relates to the financial side of things. Raising a child is not cheap. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), parents spend, on average, approximately $233,610 to raise each child through age 17. Even though the living arrangements likely place the child with one parent for the majority of the time, the other parent will still be required to financially contribute to the child’s upbringing through child support payments.

Child Expenses That Should Be Included

The monthly child support payments are calculated in the same way for everyone, by using a standardized formula set forth in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). The formula takes into account certain factors from both parents, such as income and the amount of parenting time each parent has and produces an amount that is usually paid by the parent with the least amount of parenting time to the parent with the most parenting time. Child support is intended to be used for the majority of the child’s needs, such as food and clothing, but there are other expenses that come up that your child’s other parent is also responsible for helping with, such as the following:

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Naperville child support attorney

In divorce cases that involve children in Illinois, one of the issues that must be addressed is child support. In Illinois, the financial duty of raising a child is not the responsibility of solely the custodial parent -- both parents have a legal obligation to financially provide for their children. Typically, the parent with the least amount of parenting time will pay the other parent support each month until the child’s 18th birthday or until they graduate from high school, whichever comes later. The amount of child support that each parent is responsible for is determined by using a formula that takes into account both parents’ incomes and parenting time shares. Over time, the factors used in that equation or your life circumstances may change and the amount of child support currently being paid may no longer be sufficient. Fortunately, it is possible to modify your support order in Illinois.

Common Significant Changes in Circumstances

There are only three reasons why a child support order is permitted to be modified: Either parent can demonstrate that there has been a significant change in circumstances, the support order has been found to deviate from the support guidelines, or the child’s healthcare needs have changed. The most common reason, however, for child support modifications tends to be significant changes in circumstances. Some of the most common changes can include:

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Will County divorce attorney child support

A common concern that parents have when they get divorced (or separate from one another if they were never married) is whether or not they will each be able to financially support their child, now that the other’s finances are no longer in the picture. Both parents are obligated to provide financial support for their child, even if they share custody of the child, which is where child support comes into play. A child support amount can be agreed upon by the parents, but the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) puts forth guidelines as to the minimum calculations for the support that each child is entitled to. It is important for you to understand how these calculations work, especially if you are getting a divorce in Illinois and you and your spouse have children together.

Finding Your Basic Support Obligation

First, your attorney will perform the calculations necessary to figure out how much the basic support obligation is for your child every month. The IMDMA states that this is determined by taking both you and the other parent’s monthly net income and adding them together. Once you have the sum of both of your monthly net incomes, you can then find the corresponding row with your income and the corresponding column with the number of children you have on the income shares schedule provided by Illinois Child Support Services. For example, two parents who have a monthly net income of $8,400 with two children would have a monthly support obligation of $1,950. 

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Will County divorce lawyer child support

When you and your spouse get a divorce, there are many issues that must be covered before the case can be finalized and closed. When you have children, that list grows even longer and includes matters such as determining a parenting time schedule, allocating decision-making responsibilities, and determining child support payments. Raising a child is expensive and both parents have an obligation to financially provide for their child, which is where child support comes in. Child support is typically paid by the parent with the minority of parenting time to the parent with the majority of parenting time until the child has turned 18 or until the child has graduated from high school, whichever comes later.

Reasons for Modification

The basic child support obligation, or minimum required amount to be paid each month, is calculated using a formula that takes into consideration the incomes of both parents at the time of the divorce, in addition to the amount of parenting time they have and several other factors. This support obligation is used to help cover basic living costs for the child, such as food, clothing, and housing. However, the variables that were present at the time the child support order was put into place are not constant and will typically change over the years. To accommodate these changes, the state of Illinois allows parents to request modifications to the support order if a “substantial change in circumstances” has occurred, which could include any of the following conditions:

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