In this day and age families are becoming more blended, and complex. Parties to a child support or divorce case will oftentimes have new spouses or partners with whom they have children subsequent to a divorce or parentage case. Likewise, some parties will have previous relationships where a support order is entered for children from that relationship, and then find themselves in court again for a subsequent child support matter. It can be very confusing as to how to deal with child support when there are multiple children with different parents.
For child support purposes, if there is a subsequent support order in place when a new child support order is going to be entered, the prior support order amount becomes a deduction, if the obligor is actually paying it. They get to deduct that support amount from their gross income just as they would for taxes, etc. This is a little bit complex, but not too difficult to figure out.
One interesting scenario that is occurring more often than not is when a party has a child and they are the sole parent. This happens when there is legally no other parent of a minor child or children, due to death, artificial insemination or surrogacy. If there is only one parent legally of a child, then no one else has a duty to provide support for that child or those children, except the one parent. So, what happens if that parent then has another child for whom they owe a duty of support, and there is another parent? This is much different than the first scenario. In the first scenario there is a separation of the parties resulting in a support order. So, there is a clear amount of money from the obligee’s income which is allocated to other children, by way of the support order. You have a definite amount of child support that this person pays for their other child or children. However, when they are the only legal parent of their first kids, but have to pay support for their second child or children, it becomes more complicated. Case law in Illinois provides that the Court can deviate the subsequent child support order downward so as to reserve some of the person’s income for their children, if they are the sole supporter/legal parent of the children from the previous relationship. The case law that illustrates this was one where a woman had three children and her husband passed away. She then had another child, for whom she had to pay child support. When calculating support, the Court left some of her income for the first three children, since they didn’t have a legal parent left to help with their support. See Slagel v. Wessels, 732 N.E.2d 720 (4th Dist. 2000) to read the relevant case.