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Will More Parenting Time Reduce My Illinois Child Support Obligation?

Posted on in Child Support

Joliet Courthouse child support attorney

When it comes to modifying child support obligations in Illinois, a court must answer one basic question: Has there been a “substantial change in circumstances” justifying a departure from the original award of child support? What qualifies as a “substantial change” will depend on the facts of a given case. But one thing to keep in mind is that if a change was anticipated or expected at the time of the parents’ divorce, that alone will not guarantee that a court will increase or reduce a non-custodial parent’s support obligations. Below is a recent court case that involves parenting time and a request for a child support modification in Illinois.

Court: Will County Father Not Entitled to Reduce Support  

A Will County case from earlier this year, In re Marriage of Connelly, helps to illustrate what Illinois judges look at when considering a request to modify support. The parents in this case divorced in 2015. Under a joint parenting agreement (JPA) approved by both sides, the mother became the residential parent, with the father receiving certain visitation or parenting time rights. A subsequent marital settlement agreement (MSA) required the father to pay 28 percent of his income as child support.

Approximately one year later, the father requested additional parenting time, to which the mother agreed. In 2017, the father asked the court to modify his child support obligations based on three alleged substantial changes in circumstances: a 10 percent increase in his salary, a 50 percent increase in the mother’s income, and the fact the father was now spending more time with his children under the new visitation schedule. The father also pointed to a July 2017 change in Illinois law governing the calculation of child support.

The judge found none of these things amounted to a “substantial change in circumstances” and denied the father’s petition for modification. The father appealed, but the Illinois Third District Appellate Court agreed with the judge.

First, the Third District said the father could not rely on the 2017 amendments to state child support law to justify a modification of his pre-2017 child support order. The law is not retroactive, the Court explained, and therefore it only applied to new child support cases started after July 1, 2017.

Second, while an increase in a parent’s salary can qualify as a “substantial change in circumstances,” that was not the case here. As noted above, the parents’ divorce settlement expressly contemplated salary increases by requiring the father to pay a percentage of his income rather than a fixed amount. As for the mother’s income, while it did increase by approximately 12 percent, this was not what the court considered a “significant” enough change to offset the father’s obligations.

Finally, the fact that the father was now spending more time with his children had no bearing on his support obligations. As the Court bluntly put it, “A noncustodial parent who spends considerable time with his children is not entitled to a reduction in child support.” Even if the additional parenting time means an increase in the father’s costs of caring for the children, there was no evidence that such expenses were “excessive or uncommon” in this case.

Consult a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

You should never assume that a particular change in your life will automatically translate into a modification of your requirement to pay child support. An experienced Naperville child support lawyer can provide you with the appropriate legal advice tailored to your unique situation. We will help answer any divorce or child-related questions that you may have, including what constitutes a substantial change in circumstances. Call the accomplished Law Office of Ronald L. Hendrix, P.C. today at 630-416-7004 to schedule your free consultation.



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