Child Support

The Illinois legislature has decided that child support for one (1) child is 20% of net income from all sources (i.e. salary, bonus, commission, interest, dividends, second job earnings, trust payments, certain employment perquisites, etc.). "Net income" is generally total gross income less maintenance/alimony, income taxes, health insurance premiums and a few other allowable deductions (e.g. support payments from a prior relationship, mandatory payments to a union). For two (2) children, the child support percentage is 28%, three (3) children 32%, four (4) children 40%, five (5) children 45%, and six (6) or more children 50% of net income. Sometimes one-half of day care is added to this figure, which could be further increased for special needs of a child (e.g. therapy, prescription drugs, or private school tuition).

For high-income earners, sometimes a downward deviation from the above guidelines is granted. For earners whose income fluctuates substantially from year-to-year, sometimes support is based on the average income of two (2) years or more or a flat amount plus a percentage of income over a base salary.

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Child Support Continued

Child support is generally expressed in a fixed dollar amount that may be increased or decreased until a child is age 18 or graduates high school, unless the child has special needs (e.g. autism), in which case support may be extended beyond age 18. If large bonuses are part of the income structure of the obligor (the person who pays support), sometimes support is expressed as a percentage of each and every bonus or pay raise, making future litigation less necessary relative to child support increases, but on the other hand may provide a windfall to the obligee (the person who receives support) in the event of a substantial upward spike in income (e.g. the obligor wins the lottery or receives a personal injury settlement).

Child support is payable generally monthly, bi-weekly (every other week or 26 paychecks per year), semi-monthly (twice per month or 24 paychecks per year), or weekly. It is usually garnished automatically from wages or paid to the Clerk of the Court by the obligor or the obligor's employer for further disbursement to the obligee. Under certain circumstances (e.g. the obligor is self-employed), payments may be made directly from the obligor to the obligee.

The obligation to pay support is generally independent of the right to receive visitation. Thus, if circumstances are such that a support payment will be missed, the obligor is still entitled to visitation, and vice-versa. If the obligee (the person who receives support) owes money related to a matter other than child support to the obligor, the obligor is not entitled to deduct from child support what is owed, as those obligations are viewed as independent. Child support is generally not tax deductible by the obligor nor taxable to the obligee unless the parties agree to the contrary and reclassify the support as maintenance or unallocated family support, for which the IRS imposes certain rules and restrictions.

Both parties have an obligation to support their children, but only one parent is typically ordered to pay child support to the other. The person receiving the support has no obligation to account for expenditures made on behalf of the children because support may also be used by the obligee to buy a more reliable car or a three-bedroom home instead of a one-bedroom apartment for the benefit of the children.

After the child turns age 18, child support generally ceases, but a contribution to college expenses may be required. The allocation of college expenses between the parties is often not determined until the time arises. Usually the obligation to pay college depends on the aptitude of the child, and the relative financial abilities of the parents. A carefully drafted provision is important because some parents desire to place certain duties on the child to achieve certain grades, remain a full-time student, work in the summer, obtain a certain level of student loans, apply for grants or scholarships, or attend only a state university, etc.

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Contact us regarding child support matters in these major cities:

Batavia, IL
Cook County, IL
Downers Grove, IL
DuPage County, IL
Geneva, IL

Glen Ellyn, IL
Hinsdale, IL
Joliet, IL
Kane County, IL
Lisle, IL

Naperville, IL
Oak Brook, IL
Plainfield, IL
St. Charles, IL

West Chicago, IL
Wheaton, IL
Will County, IL
Winfield, IL

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