If you are in the process of seeking child support or modifying a child support obligation, you need to read this. On July 1, 2017, the state of Illinois joined over 40 other states in adopting the income shares method of collecting child support. This represents a complete shift from the way that courts in this state have traditionally calculated child support.
Prior to the July 2017 transition, child support was calculated based on the net income of the non-custodial parent. This income figure was compared to pre-determined guideline percentages based on the number of children to be supported. To critics, this method did not take a fair look at the actual costs of raising children, nor did it represent a fair allocation of the support obligation.
What is the Income Shares Approach?
In contrast, the income shares approach looks at the income of each parent and attempts to spread the support obligation in a more equitable manner. In addition to the net income of each parent, the income shares guidelines are tied to the actual costs of raising a child — as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At its core, the income shares approach imagines what the child would have received had the family remained intact and their income was shared as a family.
How is a Parent’s Obligation Calculated?
A child’s parent who has the child the majority of the time receives the child support payments. So the first questions that a parent has to answer with this approach are: (1) the number of children; and (2) the number of overnights the child spends with each parent. This holds significance to parenting plans or court orders that allot a specific number of overnights with each parent.
Next in the calculation is to determine a parent’s gross and net income. Under the income shares approach, net income can be calculated using one of two methods: standardized or individualized. The standardized method uses a generalized chart that assumes each parent has one dependent. This is a simpler method which automatically generates a net income figure, but can be inaccurate. The Individualized method is more time intensive to calculate, but accounts for a person’s specific circumstances, such as their tax filing status, number of dependents, and tax credits. This results in a more accurate net income.
Additional information that is considered when calculating a parent’s income include spousal support paid or received and social security disability benefits that are being paid for the child. In addition, the calculation also makes adjustments for:
- A parent’s child support paid to for the benefit of other children, whether it is court ordered or not.
- The child’s health insurance and monthly cost.
- Childcare expenses.
- Extraordinary school and extracurricular expenses.
The Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas
Child custody and child support determinations are important to both you and your children. However, it is also important for parenting plans and child support orders to be fair and equitable. If you need legal assistance, call me. As demonstrated above, the law is always subject to change and you need a lawyer who will keep up with the law and protect your legal rights. Contact The Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas at 847-392-5893 for a consultation or visit our website today.