Do I have to address child support and can I just pay a “percentage” of my income?

money in walletEvery final Judgment that is entered in a custody case in Illinois has to address child support in some fashion.  Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act as well as the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984, it says that the order must address child support.  However, in some cases, a child support award can be “reserved” for a later determination.

In a situation where parties share 50/50 equal time of the minor children there is generally a consensus that child support won’t exchange hands, but that the parties will somehow split all mandatory, necessary expenses for a minor child, such as: school registration fees, medical expenses, extra-curricular activities, daycare, after school care, and more.  The Court can divide these proportionally based upon the parties income, or, proportionally based upon how much time the minor child spends with each parent.  These are not consistent rules and a lot of this is up to the discretion of the Judge and the situation of the parties.  Sometimes one parent may be awarded the child tax credits and dependency exemptions; other times the Court may tell the parties to alternate years.

Additionally, while 750 ILCS 5/505 guidelines provide that child support is calculated based upon a certain percentage of a payor’s net income, percentage child support awards are not favored in Illinois.  Usually a Court will require a baseline amount of child support is set, in dollars, and not in a percentage.  However, an obligor can be ordered to pay, in addition to the set amount of support, a “true-up” up to the relevant percentage of their net income for however many children they have.

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