Major Change in Child Support Coming
- Dec 14 2016
Effective July 1, 2017, Illinois courts will significantly change its approach to calculating child support. The law that currently governs the setting of child support (750 ILCS 5/505) will be replaced with a new calculation system.
Under the current system, the courts follow the “percentage-of-obligor” model, which is based on a percentage of the payor’s net income. The percentage increases based on the number of children the parties have. The model, which has been in effect since 1984, is largely considered outdated because it does take into account both parents’ incomes or relative parenting time. In many matters, this model has generated distrust between the parents and feelings that the system is fundamentally unfair.
The new system, called “income shares model”, will consider both parents’ incomes, amount of parenting time, and aim to reflect how child-rearing expenses were shared by the parents prior to separation and divorce.
Both parties’ “net income”, as defined by statute, will be imputed in the calculation. The definition of “net income” for purposes of calculating child support shall continue to be defined as it is under current law—all income from all sources but subject to certain deductions set forth in the statute.
The court will also be required to consider the relative parenting time of each parent when both parents have 146 or more parenting overnights per year. The formula shall require a “two-step” method in the event that parenting time is shared in such manner.
To calculate estimated child-rearing expenses, the court will look to a Schedule of Basic Support Obligation (the “Schedule”)—a table of data which will be compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Schedule, which will be periodically updated and adjusted for Illinois standards, will be available on the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (“HFS”) website (and not in the statute itself).
In anticipation of the new legislation, HFS prepared a sample Schedule based on 2012 data, which is available at the link below. Once current data is available, HFS will prepare web-based electronic worksheets, available on their website (as well as www.schusterlawpc.com), for child support calculation purposes.
The statute also provides that the new law itself does not constitute a legal basis for a parent to seek a modification. This provision was included to prevent petitions for modification based solely on the change in the law.
There are many other intricacies related to taxes, the interaction with spousal support, additional child-related expenses, and potential deviations. For further information and consultation regarding how such changes in the law may affect your family, you may contact Jennifer Schuster directly at 312-767-6396 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a complete overview of the Income Shares Model Guidelines, including a sample Schedule of Basic Support Obligation, visit: https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/ChildSupport/Documents/070912incomeshares.pdf.