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Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C.
1250 E. Diehl Road
Suite 400
Naperville, IL 60563
Phone: 630.665.7676
Fax: 630.665.8630
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Illinois Child Support

Our DuPage County divorce law firm handles all types of Illinois child support cases in Chicagoland, including Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Will County, as well as Kane and Kendall Counties.   This page contains helpful divorce and child support information to help you understand your rights regarding the Illinois child support law.  Contact us right away to schedule an office consultation or call 630.665.7676.

Illinois Child Support Information

Child support is money paid for the basic needs of the child, including food, clothing, and shelter. The basic rule of thumb is that the non-custodial (or non-residential) parent (the one not living with the child most of the time) will pay a percentage of net income for the care of the children to the other parent.

How Illinois Child Support is Calculated

First, "net income" for this purpose is defined as after-tax income from *all* sources - this means the support payor needs to add back in 401k contributions, pension contributions, and the like that are for the payor's benefit only. The payor does get credit for health insurance payments made for the child though.

Illinois Required Minimum Child Support Percentages of Income

Second, the percentages owed of net income are: 1 child = 20%; 2 children = 28%; 3 children = 32%, 4 = 40%, 5 = 45%, 6+ = 50%. These are *minimum* guidelines, but the courts and divorce attorneys follow these fairly closely in most cases. The circumstances may call for a decrease or increase from these numbers, but those cases are uncommon.

Length of Child Support Payments

Child support is payable until each child reaches age 18 or the end of high school typically, whichever happens last.

Payment Frequency of Child Support

The support is paid every pay period (and can be withheld from paychecks automatically) to the other parent.

Purpose of Child Support and Control over Spending

Child support is intended for the basic necessities of life for the child - food, clothing and shelter.  The support recipient can do what he or she wants with the money. Remember that the parent taking care of the children most of the time will have to spend money for food and shelter, as well as clothing, toys, and all kinds of other things.

Increases and Decreases in Child Support

If the paying parent has an increase in income over 10%, the other parent can seek an increase in child support. You need to go to court to do this (but the parents could agree on the increase and enter an agreed court order, saving a good deal of hassle and expense).

Similarly, if the paying parent has a job loss or substantial decrease in income, that party can ask the court for a reduction in support.

When do I have to begin child support payments in Illinois?

In a divorce case, the support obligation only begins when someone gets a court order for support. Without an order, no one owes any support. (Sometimes back support - "retroactive" child support - may be owed depending on the circumstances). Also, you can't stop paying child support without a court order no matter what your ex is doing (withholding visitation, etc.).

Each Missed Child Support Payment is a Judgment in Illinois

Also, every unpaid support payment is considered an independent judgment against the paying parent--this means *every* individual missed payment accrues its own interest--at 9% per year. This can really add up over time. Also if a parent fails to pay support and forces the other parent to go to court for relief, the party forced to go to court can get the non paying parent to pay their attorney's fees. So in short--pay the support. It's a lot cheaper in the long run, and you owe it to your kids. If you have a problem like losing your job, an injury keeping you off of work, et cetera, contact a divorce lawyer in your state ASAP so they can file a petition with the Court right away. Your reduction will only date back to the date you file the petition--not the date you lost your job or got hurt.

Court Orders Required for Illinois Child Support Changes

The only safe way to establish support, reduce it, cancel it, or increase it is to get a court order. Even if you and your ex have an agreement (and even if it is in writing) this is no guarantee that it will be binding later. There are horror stories where one spouse agreed to accept no support for a period of time when the support payor lost a job, only to claim two years later that there was no agreement! Remember, interest piles up at 9% per year for each missed support payment!  Don't trust something so important to a verbal agreement or even a written one. The law requires court involvement in changing support levels. Getting a court order (especially when the parties agree) is fairly easy to do, as long as you comply with the law. The Court will check to be sure you are not going below the legal minimums for support (20% of net income for one child for example) or that you have a valid reason to terminate (child reaches age 18).

What is “abatement” of child support?

Abatement is the temporary delay (or “pause”) of payments of support allowed by court order. The typical scenario is where the support payor loses a job and is looking for a new one. The payor and the ex agree that while the payor is looking for a job no support is due. The payor gets a job and resumes paying support. However, the law says in that case support may be abated but that it continues to pile up. During this time the payor does not need to pay the support as normal, but resumes paying when back on the job. The thing a lot of people miss is 1) they don't get an order and 2) they think the missed payments are "forgiven." Not true. With an abatement order, you still owe the support, but during the abatement period you don’t have to make payments.

Child Support Agreements Between Parents are Not "Legal" and "Binding" (Without a Court Order)

A verbal or written agreement to abate, reduce, or increase child support in Illinois is not binding.  The only thing truly binding is a Court order. Also, don't wait to get the order entered. Illinois law requires that the court approve changes in any child support to look out for the best interest of the children. The Court will not allow you to "go back" and terminate or abate child support after the fact. For example, if you waited a month after losing your job to file a petition to reduce child support, and did not pay the support that month, you are now behind on your support! The date you file your motion to abate, reduce, or increase is the date the Court will use for a starting point, even if it takes a month or two to enter the new support order.

Payment of Child Support in Illinois Beyond Age 18

Illinois law provides that the court may order child support to continue past age 18 to pay for a child with special needs or a disability. Unless the divorce decree provides for support to continue past age 18 however, the party seeking child support must get permission from the court.

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