Child support is money paid by the non-residential parent to the residential parent to assist in the financial upbringing and support of a dependent child. Child support cannot be waived by the receiving parent since it is the child’s, and not the parent’s, entitlement, even though the parent or a responsible adult actually receives the funds. Under certain circumstances, however, the matter of child support can be reserved (postponed) for further determination by the Court. Child support can also be modified upward or downward from the guidelines set forth by statute upon justification for such deviation from guidelines.
Even when the parties privately agree as to the amount of support to be paid, an Order for Support must be entered by the Court, and the amount must be found either in accordance with guidelines, or a basis set forth for deviation from those guidelines. By law, (unless other arrangements are made and ordered by the Court,) child support is deducted from the paying parent’s wages and sent by the employer to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). Self employed individuals are deemed to be their own employers and are responsible for sending payments directly to the SDU. The SDU sends funds to the recipient parent and is responsible for keeping accurate records of all payments.
Calculation of child support can be complicated, depending upon certain financial factors and the method of calculation employed. Therefore, it is always best to consult with an experienced attorney to calculate support and prepare and present the necessary request and Order for child support.
Under Illinois law, child support is available for the benefit of any child – whether or not the parents are or were ever married. Child support is ordered without regard to marital misconduct and should not be withheld for any reason or made a condition of visitation. The law states the “duty of support owed to a child includes the obligation to provide for the reasonable and necessary physical, mental and emotional health needs of the child….. [T]he term "child" shall include any child under age 18 and any child under age 19 who is still attending high school.”
Child support is calculated according to the following guidelines:
Number of Children Percent of Supporting Party's Net Income
Child support guidelines are applied in each case unless the Court determines that the guidelines are inappropriate after considering the best interests of the child in light of certain factors which include but are not limited to one or more of the following relevant factors:
(a) the financial resources and needs of the child;
(b) the financial resources and needs of the custodial parent;
(c) the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;
(d) the physical and emotional condition of the child, and his educational needs; and
(e) the financial resources and needs of the non‑custodial parent.
For purposes of calculating child support, "net income" is defined as the total of all income from all sources, minus the following properly calculated deductions:
(a) Federal income tax;
(b) State income tax;
(c) Social Security (FICA payments);
(d) Mandatory retirement contributions required by law or as a condition of employment;
(e) Union dues;
(f) Dependent and individual health/hospitalization insurance premiums;
(g) Prior obligations of support or maintenance actually paid pursuant to a court order; and
(h) Expenditures for repayment of debts that represent reasonable and necessary expenses for the production of income, medical expenditures necessary to preserve life or health, reasonable expenditures for the benefit of the child and the other parent, exclusive of gifts. The court shall reduce net income in determining the minimum amount of support to be ordered only for the period that such payments are due and shall enter an order containing provisions for its self‑executing modification upon termination of such payment period.
A common misconception about child support is that it automatically changes when the number of supported children changes, when the obligor’s income changes, or when child support is no longer necessary due to emancipation or other event triggering termination of support. Since the Court must be made aware of such changes and enter an appropriate Order modifying support, an attorney is often needed on occasion throughout the entire period where child support is or should be modified. Child support is always modifiable and either party may bring a Motion to Modify Support.
If you are in need of an original or modified Order for Child Support, we can help. Please contact us or call (708) 479-0800 to make an appointment.