Child Support Payment Guidelines in Illinois
In Illinois, in order to determine the amount of an award for child support, the court looks to the non-custodial parent’s net income plus the number of children he or she is responsible for. Net income is the total of all income from all sources (such as wages, rental income, lottery winnings) minus expenses (such as taxes, union dues, medical expenses).
The guidelines dictate that for one child, the child support amount shall be 20% of the non-custodial parent’s net income. For 2 children, it is 28% (used to be 25%). 3 children = 32% 4 children = 40% 5 children = 45% 6 or more = 50%
Keep in mind, however, that courts may deviate above or below the guidelines based upon the best interests of the child. A court will consider all of the evidence presented, including but not limited to the following relevant factors:
- the financial resources of the child
- the financial resources and needs of the custodial parent
- the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved
- the physical and emotional condition of the child, and his educational needs; and
- the financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.
In Illinois, a court may deviate below the guidelines only upon entering specific findings to justify the lower amount. This means that if the court grants a child support amount below the percentage noted above, it must specifically detail its findings on all of the five factors above to demonstrate good reason for its decision to deviate below the guidelines.
No specific findings are needed to deviate above the guidelines, but in practice, the court will generally state its reasons for doing so, which are usually due to a child’s special needs or the condition of the custodian parent. Bear in mind, not following the guidelines, unless a couple agrees to it, is very rare. You usually only see this happen in cases of very high wage earners. For example, when Bran Urlacher of the Chicago Bears was ordered to pay child support, his payments were reportedly around $10,000 a month even though he made millions a year.
Other important issues to keep in mind are that (1) the support is for the benefit of the child regardless of whether the parents were ever married (2) even if the parents agree on an amount, it must be approved by the court and (3) the amount can change as circumstances change and it is extremely important that the court is made aware of any changes in circumstances. Verbal agreements are generally not enforceable so if your circumstances change you need to get in to court.
If you have any questions about Illinois child support laws or would like a referral to an experienced lawyer, please call us at (312) 346-5320 or (800) 517-1614 or fill out our contact us form and we will contact you. All inquiries are kept in strict confidence.