Child Support Calculations Change as of July 1, 2017 — What to Expect with the “Income Shares Model”?

As many people know, child support in Illinois has been based on a percentage of the obligor parent’s (the person paying the support) properly calculated net income, either 20%, 28%, 32%, 40%, 45%, or 50%, depending on how many children are covered by the support.

But, the Illinois legislature has jumped on the bandwagon and decided to adopt an “income shares” approach to determining a parent’s child support obligation, an approach that is widespread across the United States.

What this means for a parent in Illinois is that his or her child support obligation may no longer solely be based on his or her income but rather a combination of both parties’ incomes. Additionally, each parent will now be responsible for a portion of child support. This does not mean both parties will be exchanging money.

The Department of Health and Family Services (“DHFS”) has released a chart that anticipates the dollar amount for the cost of raising a child, or children, in Illinois based on the combined income of the parents. When calculating child support under the law, one would add each party’s monthly net income and find the appropriate section on the chart. Then the monthly dollar amount the DHFS has determined it takes to support a child(ren) in Illinois, which is based on the incomes of the parties, can be identified, and each party’s respective obligation will be based on his or hers respective income.

For example, let’s say that Mother earns $2,500.00 monthly and Father earns $1,500.00 monthly for a combined monthly income of $4,000.00, and the parties have two children. For illustration purposes only and ease of explanation, let’s say that the chart lists support for two children for a couple earning $4,000.00 a month as $800.00. Since Mother earns 62.5% of the income, she is responsible for $500.00 of the support obligation, and Father, who earns 37.5% of the income, is responsible for $300.00 of the support obligation. Now, this does not mean Mother gives Father $500.00 and Father gives Mother $300.00. The determination of who will be paying the other depends on who the primary residential parent is. If it is Father, Mother will pay Father $500.00 a month in child support, and Father will be responsible for coming up with the other $300.00 it costs to raise the children.

Mathematically, the new law seems just like a new formula. However, there is an additional twist, an additional step in the formula if the parents have relatively equal parenting time, which the statute defines as the non-primary residential parent having the children 40% or more of the time. This translates to 146 overnights. If this is the case, the monthly support obligation as determined by the DHFS chart will be multiplied by 1.5. This is because it is expected that both parents will be providing duplicate items and support in their respective households.

Additionally, each parties’ individual obligation will be reduced by the amount of time the child(ren) are with each respectively.

In the example, let’s say Mother has the children 45% of the time and Father has the children 55% of the time. The $800.00 monthly obligation would now be $1,200.00, with Mother being responsible for $750.00 and Father being responsible for $450.00. But, these obligations would then be reduced by the percentage of parenting time each has, and then offset. Therefore, Mother’s obligation should be reduced by 45% and she would be obligated to pay the Father $412.50 a month, and the Father’s obligation should be reduced by 55% and he would be obligated to pay the Mother $202.50. The Mother’s obligation reduced by $202.50 would then be $210.00 each month.

That all being said, this brief explanation is how the law is anticipated to play out. However, it has not been tested and played through, and there may be other kinks and snags that rear their ugly heads in each individual case. Therefore, if you are currently paying child support, receiving child support, or are considering seeking court ordered support, it is recommended that you contact an attorney who can discuss your case with you and explain the new law and how it should apply to the facts of your situation.

by Brandy Wisher