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Illinois Child Support Laws

Illinois child support laws govern financial obligations between parents for the well-being of their children after separation or divorce. These laws determine payment calculations and guidelines to ensure equitable support.

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Eligibility and Determination of Child Support in Illinois

In Illinois, a child is eligible to receive child support until age 19 for all children, regardless of school enrollment status. The court determines child support based on each parent's income and custody arrangement. Other factors like expenses, debts, and the best interests of the child are also considered.

Child Support in Divorce Situations

For married parents getting divorced, child support is determined as part of the divorce decree. The court considers each parent's financial resources and the custody arrangement. In Illinois, custody is decided based on the child's best interests. Child support is calculated using standard guidelines based on net income.

Child Support in Unmarried or Paternity Cases

If parents were never married, paternity must first be established for the father before determining child support. Unmarried parents can agree on paternity and negotiate child support. If no agreement, the court will order paternity testing to legally establish paternity before making any child support orders.

Modifications to Child Support Orders

Existing child support orders can be modified by filing a petition in court. Support can be increased, decreased or terminated. Courts allow modifications if a substantial and permanent change occurs, like lasting income fluctuations or change in custody. The modification petition must prove the permanent nature of the change in circumstances.


The Process of Establishing Child Support in Illinois

The child support process involves filing paperwork, attending hearings, negotiating agreements and awaiting court orders.

Step 1

Filing for Child Support

To start a child support case, a parent files a petition at the courthouse. Required forms include financial affidavits listing income and expenses. All children in the household should be included in one case.

Step 2

Temporary Child Support Orders

The court may issue a temporary support order at the initial hearing, requiring payment of support while the case proceeds. Temporary orders provide for the child's needs right away.

Step 3

Mediation and Pretrial Conferences

In child support cases, parents often undergo mediation to reach agreements. The court may also hold pretrial conferences for parents to negotiate terms. Mediation and conferences aim to settle on support and custody without a trial.

Step 4

Final Negotiations and Trial

Parents who don't reach an agreement can make final attempts to negotiate before trial. If no settlement, the judge will order support and custody arrangements after hearing arguments and evidence at trial.

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Key Components of Child Support in Illinois

Child support in Illinois has specific rules and procedures when it comes to determining the amount, enforcing orders, and ending obligations. Since child support is established as part of a divorce or custody case, the support terms are part of the larger case resolution.

Calculating the Child Support Amount

Illinois uses the income shares model to calculate child support based on parents' incomes and expenses. The formula aims to determine an amount that meets the child's needs. Courts can deviate from the standard calculation if evidence proves it would be inappropriate or unfair in a particular case.

Enforcing Child Support Orders

If payments are missed, the court can order various enforcement remedies like wage garnishment or license suspension. The court oversees enforcement by issuing notices to employers or agencies. Parents can also initiate enforcement by filing contempt motions.

Ending Child Support Obligations

In Illinois, child support generally ends when the child turns 19. To terminate support, the paying parent must file a petition and provide evidence for why support should end. The court will consider the best interests of the child when deciding whether to terminate support.

Establishing Paternity and Its Impact on Child Support

Unmarried fathers must first establish paternity before the court can make any child support orders. Genetic testing may be required to confirm paternity. Once established, the amount of parenting time allotted to each parent is considered when calculating child support amounts under the Illinois guidelines.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Child Support

In Illinois, child support amounts are impacted by allocation of parental decision-making and overnight parenting time. Joint decision-making and equal parenting time generally lower support obligations for both parents. Sole decision-making allocation typically increases support paid by the non-custodial parent with visitation. The number of overnights with each parent is a key factor in calculating support under Illinois guidelines.

Child Custody's Impact on Child Support

In Illinois, the allocation of parental responsibilities, such as decision-making and parenting time, impacts child support determinations. Key factors include establishing paternity and custody agreements.

Divorce and Child Support

For divorcing parents in Illinois, child support is determined as part of the judgment for dissolution of marriage under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IL 750). The child support process, calculations using statutory guidelines, and enforcement procedures are identical whether the support order originates from a dissolution judgment or a custody judgment under the Illinois Parentage Act.

Establishing Child Support in Divorce Cases

The divorce decree includes child support terms, like amount based on guidelines and which parent must pay. Support is determined upfront and ordered as part of the overall divorce judgment.

Modifying Child Support After Divorce

After divorce, child support can be modified by filing a petition to change the court order. Parents must prove a substantial change in circumstances, such as job loss or major illness.

Enforcing Child Support in Divorce Cases

If the paying parent doesn't comply with the divorce decree terms, enforcement steps can be taken, like wage garnishment or license suspension. The judge handles enforcement by issuing orders.

Termination of Support Upon Remarriage

Illinois law terminates the noncustodial parent's support obligation if the custodial parent remarries. However, the noncustodial parent must file a petition to terminate support based on the remarriage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the new law for child support in Illinois?

The law, which went into effect in January 2021, is known as the Child Support Formula Act. It replaced the previous child support guidelines, which were based on a complex formula that was difficult to understand and apply. The new guidelines are much simpler and easier to use, and they are designed to ensure that all children in Illinois receive the same level of support, regardless of where they live.

How do I put myself on child support in Illinois?

To initiate a child support order as a parent in Illinois, go to the Child Support Services section of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services website to find your regional office and instructions. You'll need to file a petition in circuit court to start the legal process of determining custody rights, calculating child support based on guidelines, and officially ordering the non-custodial parent to pay. The court will use factors like parenting time, income, and the child's expenses to determine a fair support amount. You can file the petition yourself or with an attorney.

Can parents agree to no child support in Illinois?

Child support is considered a right of the child, and parents cannot legally agree to waive it entirely. However, parents can agree to modify the amount of child support if they can show that the standard guidelines would be unfair or inequitable in their particular case. For example, parents may be able to agree to a lower child support amount if one parent has a significant decrease in income or if the children have significant medical expenses.

What is the max child support in Illinois?

There is no set maximum amount of child support that can be ordered in Illinois. The amount of child support is based on a number of factors, including the parents' incomes, the number of children, and the children's needs. However, higher income paying parents have argued that some child support awards are “excessive” and that they are unfair to the paying parent. In some cases, the court has agreed to reduce child support awards that it found to be excessive.

How long can you go without paying child support in Illinois?

There is no statute of limitations on child support in Illinois, which means that parents can be held liable for unpaid child support even years after the order is issued. The court can take a variety of enforcement actions to collect unpaid child support, including wage garnishment, property liens, driver's license suspension, and jail time.

Do you have to pay child support if you have 50 50 custody in Illinois?

The fact that parents have 50/50 custody does not automatically mean that there will be no child support. The court will still consider each parent's income and percentage of financial responsibility to determine if one parent should pay child support to the other. For example, if one parent has a much higher income than the other parent, the court may order child support even if the parents have 50/50 custody.
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