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How Is Child Supported Calculated in Illinois?


In Illinois, child support is calculated using the income shares model. The income shares model takes into account the number of affected children, the parents’ combined income, and the time each parent spends caring for the child or children, among other factors. If you are divorcing or separating, and have minor children from the partnership, it’s important to factor in child support when making decisions about major expenditures or long-term investments. For help estimating how child support is calculated in Illinois, and therefore how much you’ll pay or receive, it can be beneficial to consult with a financial advisor.

Child Support Basics

Child support is a payment that separating or divorcing parents may be ordered to make to ensure that a child’s needs are met. The payment is usually made to the parent who is the primary custodian by the other, non-custodial parent. Payments normally go through state child support collection agencies, but can be made directly to the custodial parent instead.

Child support can be a significant financial responsibility for the parent paying it, and a similarly meaningful financial resource for the parent receiving it. Paying it is not optional. Child support agencies enforce payments with the help of state laws that provide a variety of consequences, including fines, wage garnishment, license suspensions, asset seizure and jail time.

Governments may also exercise some oversight when it comes to how custodial parents spend money received for support. Illinois state law, for instance, obligates custodial parents to use support money to pay for the child’s education, healthcare and other necessities. In some cases, parents may have to provide children with health insurance coverage.

How Child Support Is Calculated in Illinois

How child support is calculated in Illinois differs from other states.

States use a variety of means to calculate the amount of a monthly child support obligation. Some set payments as a percentage of the non-custodial parents’ income, with the percentage varying according to the number of affected children.

Many states use a more complicated approach known as the income shares model. This model uses both parents’ combined incomes and number of children, as well as the percentage of time each parent is responsible for a child and other details regarding the custody arrangement. The goal of the income shares model is to provide the child with a standard of living similar to when the parents were together.

Illinois uses the income shares method. So when calculating child support in Illinois, parents need to provide a number of pieces of information about the child or children’s living situation, including:

  • Number of children affected
  • Number of overnight stays with each parent
  • Both parents’ income
  • Whether or not either parent is receiving or paying spousal maintenance
  • Whether children receive Social Security benefits from a retired or disabled parent’s account
  • Whether either parent pays court-ordered child support for any other children
  • Costs for child care, health insurance, school and extracurricular expenses for the child

The state provides an online calculator that can estimate child support payment amounts. However, the estimated amount may not be the actual amount ordered by the court. The actual child support amount may vary depending on the circumstances of the case and other factors the court may deem it appropriate to consider.

Additional Child Support Considerations in Illinois

The duration of a child support obligation in Illinois is normally specified in the court order establishing the support requirements. The date is typically tied to the child’s 18th birthday. However, if the child has not graduated from high school by the age of 18, it will continue until graduation or their 19th birthday. In some cases, support may extend until the child has graduated from college.

Once the court sets a support amount, it can be modified within limits. The support amount can be changed if the child’s needs or the parents’ financial situation changes significantly. In order to modify support, the parent must submit a petition to the court requesting the change and explaining why it’s needed. Modification requests may not always be granted, and parents can only request modifications once every three years.

Bottom Line

A financial advisor helping a client calculate child support in Illinois.

Illinois uses the income shares model to calculate child support. The model takes into account the number of affected children, each parent’s salary and the parents’ combined income, the time each parents spends caring for the child, and other factors such as expenses for child care, health insurance, and school and extracurricular activities. Courts may also consider other factors related to the custody arrangement or living situation in their calculation.

Child Support Tips

  • Knowing how much child support you are likely to pay or receive is vital to getting a solid understanding of your financial situation. A financial advisor can help you generate a good estimate. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Estimate your take-home pay after taxes and withholding using SmartAsset’s Illinois paycheck calculator.

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