New Illinois Law on Child Support: Developing Trends in Divorce Cases

Almost a year has passed since the new Illinois child support law went into effect and already certain trends are developing to shape how divorce cases proceed in the state. In general, the statute has changed how the amount of child support is determined, which reflects the new reality of a shared approach to parenting. As such, the focus is no longer on what the noncustodial parent should pay to the custodial parent to cover the costs of raising the child. Instead, courts apply a child support model that takes into account the incomes of both parents and the time the child spends with each of them. Though the long-term implications of the new law have yet to manifest, some immediate effects are already clear. A Chicago child support lawyer can tell you about the specifics of your case, and an overview of the new law may be helpful.

Details of Illinois’ Child Support Law

Under the previous version of the statute, the noncustodial parent was presumed to be the obligor in paying child support; his or her net income was the focus in determining child support amounts. However, this model was not always suitable for the modern approach to co-parenting: The traditional concepts of custody and visitation have been replaced with parenting responsibilities and parenting time. Children are spending almost equal time with their parents after divorce. Plus, divorcing spouses are more likely to earn almost equal amounts in net income.

The new approach to calculating child support, termed the “income shares” model, is more appropriate for the new reality. Judges must account for the net incomes of both parents, how their contributions to child support would be split if the household was still intact, and the division of parenting time for each parent.

Trends Since the Law Took Effect July 2017

The new law is in its infancy, but there are some developments in divorce cases that involve minor children.

  • Increase in Disputes Over Parenting Time: Because a parent could potentially lower child support obligations by taking on more parenting time responsibilities, he or she may fight harder to get overnight visits.
  • Obligations on Documenting Parenting Time: It is increasingly important to note the details of parenting time and establish a schedule for future overnight visits. Deviations from the parenting time schedule – upon which child support obligations are based, in part – could lead to adjustments in payment amounts.
  • Modifications to Child Support: With parents sharing a close-to-equal financial obligation for child support, changes in circumstances must be quite considerable to justify a modification. One parent losing a job would be significant, but a reduction in pay for one parent may not change the net income of both parents much.

Discuss Child Support With a Skilled Family Law Attorney in Chicago

For more information about Illinois child support laws, please contact Arami Law in Chicago to set up a consultation. Our legal team is highly knowledgeable about recent changes in the child support statute, and we can help you understand your rights and obligations as a parent.

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