Calculating Child Support Payments in Illinois

Regardless of the relationship between a child’s parents, he or she deserves the benefit of having both parents in his or her life. For many children of unmarried or divorced parents, legally recognized, written arrangements regarding custody and visitation may be established. For others, a more casual verbal agreement may serve the needs of the children. Either type can address the amount of time the child spends with each parent, as well as responsibilities for picking up and dropping off the child. Frequently, however, a formal order regarding child support is often determined apart from custody and visitation.

Illinois law regarding child support works primarily on the assumption that the non-custodial parent will be expected to pay support to the custodial parent. The law also provides a very simple method for determining the recommended amount of support to be paid dependent only on the number of children being supported. A non-custodial parent will generally be expected to pay a percentage of his or her net income as follows:

  • 20 percent for 1 child;
  • 28 percent for 2 children;
  • 32 percent for 3 children;
  • 40 percent for 4 children;
  • 45 percent for 5 children; and
  • 50 percent for 6 or more children.

For the purposes of this calculation, the law establishes an individual’s net income as his or her total income minus specified deductions. These include federal, state, and Social Security taxes, as well as mandated retirement contributions, union dues, health insurance premiums, previously ordered support or maintenance payments, and other reasonable expenses for the benefit of the child or other parent.

While the formula specified in the law is mathematically straightforward, the numbers cannot always take into account more subjective factors related to a child’s best interest. Therefore, the court is granted discretion to possibly establish a support order which deviates from the recommendation upon consideration of the circumstances specific to the case such as:

  • Assets, resources, and needs of the child and both parents;
  • The lifestyle and standard of living experienced by the child prior to separation or divorce, as applicable; and
  • Educational requirements, physical, emotional, and/or medical needs of the child.

The current child support system in Illinois is known as “percentage of obligor net income,” which, in recent years, seems to be falling out of favor with states around the country. Nearly 40 states have adopted an “income shares” support model which, despite being a more complex calculation, maybe a more equitable method of distributing the financial support responsibility between both parents. Recent internal reviews in Illinois have begun a push toward the adoption of such a system, but to date, the necessary legislation has failed to gain traction among state lawmakers.

If you are involved in a pending action regarding child support in DuPage County, you need qualified representation. Contact an experienced Wheaton family law attorney today. We will work hard to protect your best interests and those of your children.