In 2017, Illinois lawmakers changed the way family courts determine child support payments. These changes followed some other significant modifications to the state's laws which redefined child custody and visitation as the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time. Divorcing parents should be sure to understand their child support obligations and the methods used to determine the amount of child support payments.
Parents’ Combined Income
Before the change in the law, child support payments were determined using a fairly simple calculation that was based on a fixed percentage of the income earned by the non-custodial parent. Under the new laws, child support payments are calculated based on the combined income of both parents. The courts will determine a child support obligation based on what a married couple who earns that combined income would typically spend to care for their child or children. Each parent will be responsible for a certain portion of that obligation based on their percentage of the combined income.
In many cases, the majority of parenting time will be awarded to one parent and the other will need to make child support payments. If parenting time is split equally, or nearly so, then child support payments are not only based on the income of each parent but also the expenses of each parent in supporting the child. For example, only one parent may pay health insurance premiums. When the income and expenses of each parent are compared when they are both awarded equal parenting time, one parent may be obligated to make child support payments to the other.
There can be many expenses when raising a child which is why it has been reported that it can cost upwards of $230,000 to provide for a child and nurture them to the age of 18. Just some of these expenses that are a large part of parental responsibility include:
- Health insurance
- Extracurricular activities such as sports or clubs
- School expenses such as uniforms, shoes, fees for trips, etc.
Some parents, depending on their income, are also required to pay some or all of their child’s college costs. These are calculated based on the income of the parents so long as the child is still considered dependent, which is usually until the age of 24. If a student can prove they support themselves independently of their parents, a waiver may be approved. The cost of school or schools the student is applying to is also considered....