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How to Calculate Child Support in Illinois

Overview of Child Support

Child support payments are designed to help maintain a child's basic standard of living without the need for public assistance paid for by taxpayers. At the very least, they are used to cover the cost of food, clothing and shelter for a child. However, they may also be used to cover medical or dental expenses in addition to educational expenses, when appropriate.

In general, support is calculated based on taking the amount of money that both parents make and figuring out how much people in their financial situation would spend on raising a child. This obligation is then divided based on each person's income and how much time is spent with a child. Other obligations and payments towards a child's care may also factor into determining how much child support someone may be ordered to pay.

Additional support may be ordered if a child has special needs or in other circumstances. For example, the court may order payments for medical costs, educational costs or even extracurricular activities.

Duration of Child Support

Typically, Illinois child support payments must be made until a child turns 18. However, there are circumstances that may allow a parent to stop making payments beforehand. For instance, if the child becomes emancipated, marries or joins the military, the parent can stop making payments. Parents may be required to make payments after a child has turned 18 if that child has special needs or has not yet finished high school.

Child Support Formula and Factors That Influence It

Several factors influence how much Illinois child support a parent pays per child. First, the number of children a parent has will be taken into consideration. Illinois child support guidelines maintain that a noncustodial parent with one child will pay 20 percent of his or her net income for that child. Parents who have six or more children could pay 50 percent of their net income to cover all of them.

How to Calculate Net Income

Net income is calculated by taking a parent's gross income and subtracting certain costs. For instance, FICA and other payroll taxes as well as union dues may be deducted from gross income to help calculate net income. A noncustodial parent may also be able to exclude health insurance premiums as well as payments on student loans. Finally, any other support payments will also reduce the amount of income to be paid to other children.

Is It Possible to Reduce Payments?

If a parent cannot account for income or cannot guarantee when they can pay, the court may order a reasonable amount to be paid. This could be either a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of income (once it can be accounted for).

While there are support guidelines, a court may deviate from those rules. A family law attorney may attempt to use facts specific to a case to reduce the amount of support owed.

For instance, the amount of time spent with the child may be a good enough reason to reduce what you pay to the other parent. If you can claim a financial hardship, it may be enough to reduce your monthly payments. However, it is important to remember that the best interest of the child always trumps what a parent may want.

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