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The New Illinois Model for Child Support: The Takeaway

Elgin IL Divorce Attorneys

Since July 1, 2017, Illinois has joined many other states and decided to calculate child support obligations based on and “income shares” model rather than a percentage of income of the payor. This model is designed to create a more equitable split in the expenses for the child; the model is set to calculate the costs associated with raising a child and allocate the support based on both parties’ net incomes. The goal of the income shares model is to maintain the support amount associated with caring for the child before the parties separated and allocate a percentage of that support based on each party’s individual net income. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) has set forth a Schedule of Basic Support Obligations to determine the amount of support allocated to a child or children based on the combined net income of the parties. See the basic schedule here:

What does this mean?

In the simplest situation, where one parent has a majority of the parenting time, child support is calculated by combining the net income of the parties and using the child support figure on the Schedule provided by HFS based on the number of children. Each party’s “obligation” to the child is based on the percentage of their net income in relation to the combined net income of the parties.

For example:
Parent A’s net monthly income is $7,500.00, Parent B’s net monthly income is $2,500.00. The combined net monthly income is $10,000.00. The combined net monthly income ($10,000.00) is used to pull the child support obligation from the HFS Schedule. In this example, let’s say that the parties share one child. The support needed for the child, based on the combined net income of the parties and the HFS Schedule is $1,445.00 per month.

In this scenario, Parent B will have the child for a majority of the parenting time and therefore, Parent A will be paying the child support. The amount that each party is “responsible” for with regard to the child is calculated by multiplying their percentage of net income by the HFS Schedule amount. In this example, Parent A’s net monthly income of $7,500.00 makes up 75% of the parties combined net monthly income of $10,000.00. Parent A is therefore responsible for 75% of the monthly child support as determined by the HFS Schedule. 75% of $1,445.00 is $1,083.75 and Parent A is responsible for paying that monthly amount to Parent B. Parent B’s responsibility, 25% of $1,445.00 amounting to $361.25, is presumed to be spent on the child and this amount is not paid to Parent B.

I know we called the situation above “simple,” but the following calculations might make you think differently!
This new model also allows the calculation to factor in the costs of childcare. The monthly cost of childcare is added to the monthly child support and the income share percentages are then applied. Maintenance received counts toward the receiving party’s net income and maintenance paid is deducted from the paying party’s net income. Child support paid for a non-shared child is deductible from gross income. Whether the full amount is deductible or not depends on whether said support is court ordered or voluntary and the court still has discretion to disregard this adjustment.

What about when the parenting time is split somewhat equally?

Another aspect of the income shares model the shared parenting formula which comes into play when both parents have a significant amount of parenting time with the child or children. With the new model, the number of overnights that a parent has during their parenting time matters when calculating child support; the magic number is 146 overnights. If the paying parent has less than 146 overnights with the child per year, he or she has less than 40% of the total available overnights in the year. No additional calculations are needed if this is the case. When both parents have at least 146 overnights, an additional step is needed in the child support calculation.

The combined child support obligation from the schedule is calculated using the parties combined net income. This support amount is multiplied by 1.5. Why? This multiplier is to account for childrearing costs that are duplicated in both households such as food or transportation. Each parent’s obligation is calculated using their percentage of the net income and the adjusted support amount.

The next step in this calculation is to calculate the percentage of parenting time each parent has with the child. This is simply the number of overnights each parent has divided by 365. Each parent’s percentage of parenting time is multiplied by the other parent’s support obligation to create each party’s adjusted child support obligation. The lower obligation is subtracted from the higher obligation and that difference is paid by the parent with the higher obligation.

What about other costs associated with raising children?

Childcare costs can be included in the income shares model. Health insurance premiums can also be factored in as well, resulting in a credit or off-set to the child support paid or received by a parent if they are paying the entire cost of the child’s health insurance premiums. Extracurricular activities are not subject to the income shares model. A court may order one or both parents to contribute to the costs, but the statute does not provide that these expenses be allocated using the income shares model.

Who is subject to the new guidelines?

Any case decided after July 1, 2017 will be subject to child support being calculated using the income shares model - this includes cases that were filed prior to July 1, 2017. Cases that have already been decided are not automatically subject to a modification based on this new statute.

What next?

The new model is a significant change to the child support guidelines that have been in place for so long. Consulting a knowledgeable attorney can help set your mind at ease when tackling the new model. Contact an experienced Family Law Attorney to discuss your situation. Call 847-426-1866 or 630-945-8807 to speak with a member of the team at Pucci | Pirtle today.

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