In this article, you will learn:
- The various figures and calculations that contribute the calculation of child support in Illinois
- How to determine how much support you may be paying after the case has been settled
The calculation of child support in Illinois is based on an income shares model for child support, which is progressive and accurate to what many other states are doing right now. Still, Illinois, true to its nature, put a little bit of flair into how we calculate that. So, the rough sketch of it is the legislators came up with this nifty little table that they think shows how much it costs to raise a child, which is structured as follows;
It takes both parents’ income and puts it together into one sum. Then it says how many children are involved, and then based on that double income, with this many children, it’s going to cost this much to care for those kids per month. It then takes that number and looks at the proportion of those two incomes determines what each parent owes. So, if one parent contributed 70% of their income, they’d be responsible for 70% of that nifty little number that the legislators determine is what it costs to rear a child. However, in reality, you don’t need to worry about that. You just need to go to the Illinois child support website and type in the information for calculating child support.
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When there, just put the numbers in to calculate the support obligation.
We are not trying to get the exact figure, but we are trying to get within five to ten percent of the ballpark figure for the support obligation. Typically though, the numbers aren’t going to be that different. Of course, the judge might take into consideration some higher extra-curricular costs or health insurance that are being paid for that the support calculator doesn’t, but that rarely happens.
Most of the time, the numbers are put in, it spits a number out, and that number is what your support obligation will be. Depending on the software used, the amounts may differ by just a few dollars, but it’s not worth bickering over $10 or even $100 to pay an attorney to spend another 30 minutes fighting over $10 or $100. So, I don’t encourage that; I just encourage you to get in the general vicinity of the correct value.
Let’s run through this and of some of the things used to determine the amount for child support.
First is the number of children and the number of overnights with custodial parents. So, let’s say there are two children with Mom, the custodial parent, for 300 nights.
We’ll stick with the standard income modeling used unless you earn half a million dollars or more as an individual. This is your gross or take-home pay before taxes, or anything is taken out. So let’s just say Mom makes $3000 per month, Dad makes $5000 per month. It then looks at if Mom is getting any maintenance or even child support from other relationships. All sources of revenue will be considered. Likewise, it also considers other children of other relationships that need to be accounted for, not just with a support order. Previously, the statute was the first in time got the most money. So, whoever applied for child support first got the most money, so you could have a one-year-old getting more child support than a seven-year-old because that one-year-old’s parent filed before the seven-year-old’s parent.
But now, that’s not the case. So, you would apply for a multi-family adjustment and type that in, and it will spit out a number presumably by considering the cost of rearing those other children. Then you have to put in the health insurance if it’s provided or not, and then it also includes if the state is providing child support, then you could put that there but let’s just say the non-custodial parent provides it and the family amount is $250. So, depending on who you are representing, you will be fighting over this health insurance amount. I’d say you can’t fight about what the support obligation is after you put the numbers in, but you sure can fight about what numbers get put in there. So, the amount of child support often is supposed to take the difference between the single coverage and the family plan coverage.
So, let’s say the single coverage is $150 and the family plan is $400, then the difference would be $250. So, that’s what it costs to provide health insurance for the two children. It’s not the $400 because they would be paying that $150 for themselves no matter what, but then adding the kids on is an extra $250. $400 minus $150 is $250. So that’s what you put down. But also you input child care expenses, extraordinary expenses, and so on, and childcare is the big one. Sometimes this turns into a skirmish because they are like, well, Mom is not working, and she should work. This may be true, let’s say she works, and then let’s say she gets $2000 per month, but she is paying $1000 in childcare, so suddenly we’ll put that on there, and your obligation is probably going to be more than if you just didn’t complain about her not working and left it at that.
This is what I do with clients. I get on virtual meetings, share the screen, run through the what-ifs, and we’ll see where we end up.
Based on those assumptions, what do we have? the support obligation will be $876; that’s what he is supposed to be paying the Mom in this scenario.
Let’s say maybe Mom could earn more than $3000; let’s say she could make $5000. What happens then? It can be strange how she earns $2000 more, but it drops her support obligation down $100. People panic and ask how it is possible. If you remember that table I mentioned before and look at both parties’ income, you combine the two, and that with two kids, it will cost this much to raise the children. So, it probably bumped them up into a new tier where the legislature thinks that it’s going to cost a lot more to raise two children if you have a combined income of $10,000 a month than $8000 a month, and therefore, your obligation doesn’t drop as much as you thought it would.
You can’t argue with this number, that’s just the number that comes out. You can argue with the numbers that go in but not with the numbers that come out. So, let’s just say that she is earning nothing, she is not working, and you are. So what have we got here? It will be $1233, which is a significant increase from before. Okay, so I don’t want her to be not working; she needs to be working at least a little bit. Let’s say she is working and making $2500, but childcare is $800 a month. So, her net has undoubtedly increased because now she is getting $1700 per month in revenue, whereas she was getting zero before. But what does that do to your support obligation? Let’s see.
It does drop it $300, but this is the kicker and why people think it doesn’t make any sense. Let’s say your obligation could be more than if she wasn’t working because now unless you can provide for your childcare, she has a right to ask, and a judge most likely will award half of those childcare expenses. So, now you are paying $400 in childcare expenses, plus $930. So, you are paying $1330 per month. Let’s just go back to that last calculation where it was zero and zero and remember the number $1330. Here is the new number $1230, so you will be paying $100 more for her to work. You have to fight that childcare expense. Maybe you’ll win and not have to pay it, but if you do get hit with it, then you must. That’s why I have these what-if scenario conversations with my clients.
For more information on the Determination Of Child Support in Illinois, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you seek by calling (312) 772-3346 today.