If your child support order was entered prior to 2017, it was calculated under old law. Previously, child support was based solely on the income of the non-residential parent (i.e. the parent who does live with the children most of the time). The child support amount was a certain percent of the non-residential parent’s income: 20 percent for one child, 28 percent for two children, 32 percent for three children, 40 percent for four children, and so on. The judge calculated the non-residential parent’s child support payment based only on their income and the number of children the parents shared.
How Has Illinois Child Support Law Changed?
Last year Illinois implemented new laws that drastically changed the way that the courts calculate child support payments. Judges now look at the incomes of both parents to determine their combined child support obligation. This method is called an income-shared approach, meaning that both parents have a child support obligation to the child. In order to calculate the new child support amount, the judge looks at both parents’ net incomes (net income is gross income minus taxes and certain other deductions). The parents’ net incomes are combined to create a “household income”, as though the parents and children live together. Illinois has created a guideline child support amount that both parents must contribute toward based on that combined household income. Each parent is responsible for a percentage of the child support guideline amount based on the percentage of that parent’s contribution to the household income. So, if the non-residential parent’s income is 60 percent of the household income, then the non-residential parent has to pay 60 percent of the child support guideline amount. Under that scenario, the residential parent is then responsible for 40 percent of the child support amount. However, it is important to note that the non-residential parent does not have to make a payment as they are already considered to be paying child support because the child lives in their home.
What Do These Changes Mean For You?
Child support payment amounts do not change unless one of the parents brings the case back to court and asks for the child support payment amount to be recalculated. Consequently, even though you and your ex may see significant changes in one or both of your incomes, the child support amount will remain the same unless one of you seeks to modify it. Because the guidelines are now based on both parents’ incomes, you may want to consider bringing your case back to court if your income or your ex’s income has significantly changed since the last child support order was entered. These changes to the law may allow you to lower your child support payment, or increase you ex’s child support payment, depending on your current incomes.
If You Want to Lower Your Child Support Payment:
If you are the non-residential parent and have had an involuntary decrease in your income, the current law could help you to reduce your child support payment. We have had many clients come to us with child support orders that were created when they earned a higher income. A reduction in income does not mean an automatic reduction in your child support payment—you have to return to court to request that the payment amount be lowered. A significant involuntary decrease in income will allow you to re-open your case so that a new child support payment can be calculated based on your reduced income. It is important to note that a significant income decrease is usually 10 percent or more and must be involuntary. You cannot quit your job, go back to school, or cut your hours back to part-time in order to ask for a reduction in your child support payment.
Another reason to consider bringing your case back to court is if you believe your ex has experienced a significant increase in income. Previously, the residential parent’s income was not considered when assessing child support payment amounts. Under the current guidelines, if your ex earns more than you they are responsible for a greater portion of the child support guideline amount even if they are the residential parent. If your ex is now earning a larger salary than when you were last in court, or you suspect they may be making more money than you, recalculating the child support amount utilizing their increased income could lower your payment.
If You Want to Increase Your Ex’s Child Support Payment:
Many clients come to us with old child support payment amounts that were calculated when the non-residential parent was in school, working part-time, or just earned a lower salary. Child support payments do not change until one of the parents brings the case back to court based on a “significant change” in circumstances. Usually, a significant change is an increase or decrease in income of 10 percent or more. If you believe that your ex’s income has significantly increased since your child support payment was calculated, you can bring your case back to court to ask that your ex’s child support payment be recalculated based on their current income. An increase in their income could result in a larger child support payment for your child.
What Should You Do Next?
Chicago Family Law Group, LLC has successfully helped many people on both sides of this issue. Whether you are looking to decrease your child support payment or increase your ex’s child support payment, we can help. Under the current law, modifying your child support order does not have to be a long or difficult process. We have been able to help many of our clients modify their child support payments within six to twelve months of filing to re-open their cases.
Call us today at (312) 893-5888 to discuss your case with one of our attorneys and find out how we can help you.
I’m really excited for 2017 to be Chicago Family Law Group’s Best Year Ever. Personally I’ve been working through Michael Hyatt’s rigorous goal-setting curriculum & some HUGE upgrades are being rolled out at CFLG literally this month of February. More details to come but to ‘tease it’ out a bit…adding multiple new legal staff AND total Website re-vamp set to hit by 2/15/17. So EXCITED to protect more families/marriages and IMPROVE OUR WORLD!
The Illinois Family Law Scene
Here’s what is strange to me about the Illinois political environment, on one hand there’s the perception/reality that our General Assembly is not accomplishing much and the state is in awful financial condition, HOWEVER, there have never been such significant changes in the family law space over my 15-years of lawyering as there have been over the last 2+ years.
6 RECENT PAST/FUTURE Law Changes Having MAJOR Impacts
- Income-Shares Child Support model. Effective 7/1/17 (and with major details still needing to be rolled out by lawmakers), we move from the % guidelines model that basically looked purely at the payor’s income to a model that considers BOTH parents’ incomes. The word on the street is that a payor’s support obligation is often lower under this model, however, the key issue likely will vary based on the payee’s income which is now a key component to a child support calculation. If you’ve been thinking about a child support reduction, shortly after 7/1/17 might be a good time to pull the trigger.
- Temporary Matters More Efficient. Parentage and divorce cases often take 6-months to 2-years to resolve-in-full and therefore we’re frequently filing for temporary (while the case is pending) maintenance/child support/attorney’s fees to protect clients over that 6-month/2-year period. Historically these ‘temporary matters’ included significant litigation. However, the new law that became effective 1/1/16 makes these matters easier/abbreviated based solely on the parties’ financial affidavits plus supporting documents (tax returns, paystubs).
- Spousal Support is FAR MORE Prevalent. The spousal support (maintenance) guidelines became effective 1/1/15 and maintenance is far easier to get for our clients now. Previously, maintenance amounts/duration were set wholly on a series of 10-12 factors that made maintenance VERY UNPREDICTABLE. Now assuming an income disparity between divorcing spouses judges are pretty much simply applying the guidelines (30% gross income – 20% gross income = maintenance amount). My observation is that the duration formula is a tad unfair with longer awards that aren’t appropriate.
- Student Loan deductions for child support. This wasn’t clear previously but as of 1/1/16 when we have young-ish parents if there are student loans BEING PAID that’s a deduction against ‘net income’ for purposes of the child support calculation…not a question any longer.
- Relocation Mileage Limits. So to review the big change here as of 1/1/16 became a majority-time parent’s ability to relocate with a child changed from being tied to moving to a different state to NOW having a 25/50 mile limit (depending on where you live in Illinois). In our experience over the last 12-13 months the new mileage limits have increased litigation. I thought this when the law was passed and it’s true….25/50 miles are too small of mileage limits.
- Cook County Domestic Relations Division Reorganization. Effective 2/6/17, a lot of shuffling is happening in the courtrooms that we frequent on a daily basis and hopefully I won’t get lost at the Daley Center with a ton of judge/courtroom changes…but that’s all just administrative and I’ll adjust. The BIG CHANGE that I believe will help our clients is that the 2 ‘parts’ of family law (divorce and parentage) will no longer will segregated. For my first 15-years of family lawyering, parentage cases (unmarried parents) were the ‘2nd class’ part of the universe with fewer courtrooms and judges. Now, all 43 (approximate current number of Cook County domestic relations judges) judges will be handing ‘combined’ dockets with divorce/post-divorce/parentage matters. I think this will upgrade the way in which parentage matters are handled.
Lets make 2017 YOUR Best Year Ever.
We can help with that HERE or @ 312-893-5888.
You are a parent raising young kids in the state of Illinois but you think another state or county within Illinois would benefit your family more. Problem: you share parental allocation or responsibility (formerly custody) with your ex-spouse. In the State of Illinois, just because the child(ren) reside with you, does not mean you get to dictate where they live, especially if it means relocating out of the State of Illinois.
Under the new family law statute of January 1, 2016, ((750 ILCS 5/) Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act ) for parental relocation, if a parent whom the child(ren) resides with majority of the time wishes to relocate, whether it is somewhere else in the state of Illinois or another state altogether, they must give the other parent 60 days written notice (unless impracticable then it must be given at the most earliest date possible) of where they plan to move. Notice is required if you fall under three categories:
- Moving more than 25 miles from the child’s current home, if the child lives in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will County;
- Moving more than 50 miles from the child’s current home, if the child lives in any other county in Illinois;
- Moving out of state to a new residence that is located more than 25 miles from the child’s current home.
In this notice, the parent must include the follow:
1) Exact date that they plan to move
2) The new address
3) The length of time if the move isn’t permanent
If the other parent is agreeable with the move, then your job is just about done. You simply draft an agreement and have the other parent sign off on it and then you file the agreement with the court. If the other parent is opposed to the move, you must get permission from the courts to relocate by filing a petition. The court will usually considers the reason for the move – such as better opportunity for the child(ren) and the effect on parenting time for the other parent.
Most times, parents aren’t as far apart in their wishes. Be ready to compromise and offer reasonable parenting plan for the other parent’s parenting time to not be too affected. The courts would much rather you work out an agreement than to make a decision that may not work for either you or the other parent. The factors the court will consider are outlined below directly from an excerpt of the statute:
(750 ILCS 5/609.2)
Sec. 609.2. Parent’s relocation.
(g) The court shall modify the parenting plan or allocation judgment in accordance with the child’s best interests. The court shall consider the following factors:
(1) the circumstances and reasons for the intended relocation;
(2) the reasons, if any, why a parent is objecting to the intended relocation;
(3) the history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child and specifically whether a parent has substantially failed or refused to exercise the parental responsibilities allocated to him or her under the parenting plan or allocation judgment;
(4) the educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
(5) the presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
(6) the anticipated impact of the relocation on the child;
(7) whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities between all parents if the relocation occurs;
(8) the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to relocation;
(9) possible arrangements for the exercise of parental responsibilities appropriate to the parents’ resources and circumstances and the developmental level of the child;
(10) minimization of the impairment to a parent-child relationship caused by a parent’s relocation; and
(11) any other relevant factors bearing on the child’s best interests. (h) If a parent moves with the child 25 miles or less from the child’s current primary residence to a new primary residence outside Illinois, Illinois continues to be the home state of the child under subsection (c) of Section 202 of the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Any subsequent move from the new primary residence outside Illinois greater than 25 miles from the child’s original primary residence in Illinois must be in compliance with the provisions of this Section. http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=8300000&SeqEnd=10000000
So quick recap:
- DO give the other parent notice
- DON’T give notice after moving
- DO put notice in writing with required details
- DON’T withhold your new address
- DO encourage parenting time between the other parent & minor(s)
- DON’T move in bad faith or place minor(s) in a worse off position than they will be in if they stay where they currently reside.
If you are planning on relocating and the other parent is not willing to sign off on the move and you are located in Cook, Lake, Will, Kane, and Du Page counties, call our offices and schedule an appointment at 312-893-5888.
Peter was honored to appear recently on Mauck & Baker’s Lawyer for Jesus radio program. Checkout the full broadcast HERE.
I’m actually undefeated in contested child custody trials in my career and just helped win custody for another gentleman/client in the last couple of months (so I know what I’m talking about). Of course to be ‘real’ I’m surely attempting to NOT waste a year or two heading towards contested trials when certain clients have BAD cases and frankly it’s rarer than one might think that there is actually a battle over who’s custodial parent (majority time parent and decision-maker). That said, if our firm has approximately 100 active family law (divorce or child custody) cases pending at any one time I’d estimate that typically 5 cases are full-on contested, custody matters.
Here’s how you can put yourself in a great position to WIN:
- Facilitate the ‘Other’ Parent’s Relationship with the Kids. This is far and away the most critical factor in custody cases and yet it’s often a tough needle to thread because basically you’re talking about promoting/supporting the other parent’s relationship with your kids while your relationship with that other parent might be breaking down simultaneously (divorce). But, this is a specific factor in Illinois child custody law and I guarantee you judges have this question foremost in their heads, “If I give custody to parent X, is she going to promote parent Y’s relationship with their daughter?” I nearly always ask one or both parties when they’re testifying to talk about the other parent’s strengths because if you have a parent who can’t even say 1 supportive thing about the other parent do you really think he’s going to support mom’s parenting time going forward?
- Be Involved in Your Kid’s Life (what’s your track record?). This is often a key factor I consider when advising a client regarding his/her likelihood of success in a custody battle. You need to know the teachers, doctors, and coaches who are working with your children. You need to attend (and have a history of attending) the conferences, appointments, and games. Perhaps you’re attendance is less than 100% but if it’s nearly non-existent then you’re not winning custody and you likely shouldn’t even try to win custody.
- Have a Support System (frequently extended family). I typically want 3 types of witness at a custody trial: 1) The party; 2) Objective 3rd-party like teacher/coach/church leader; 3) Extended family member, close support system person. We obviously can’t control the family we’re born into but a Court still loves to hear from a grandparent or sibling of the parent who’s a major, supporting influence to a parent and a major, supporting influence to the kids too. I have a great memory of a strong, Irish grandmother being a critical witness on behalf of a client of ours in some successful custody-related litigation a few years back and have a case right now where our client’s parents are a major part of the kid’s life and will help him win custody in his case too.
- Education Matters (particularly in minority or lower-income households). First, lets understand that judges are lawyers and lawyers have a lot of education so I think there’s surely some pro-education bias in all situations. Second, I have observed that in cases with non-white clients or in lower-income households generally that judges REALLY want to see who is the parent who will or won’t promote education as an important factor to a child’s future. We just won custody for a guy last month and the ‘education issue’ was the reason why…when mom had custody of the 13-year-old daughter the daughter missed 50% of school days. The court made a custody change to our client.
- Parental Maturity Matters (child discipline). I’m not saying that the harshest discipline wins, but, I am saying the parent with a structure and plan for discipline wins. I’ve seen more than a few times where a parent is too soft and just wants to be a friend of their child. I helped a guy win custody of his son 2-3 years ago where the mom still lived with her parents, was way too emotional, and was simply unwilling to really PARENT.
A child custody award is an IMPORTANT deal that can really change the trajectory of a kid’s life. It’s not fun while you’re in it but it can be worth the fight oftentimes. We can help.
How can I serve you? The initial consultation is always free: