After much anticipation, Illinois has moved into the majority of other states that have an “income shares model” for adjudicating child support. The income shares model considers both parents’ incomes when determining the support award while the current Illinois guidelines consider the obligor’s income only.
The current Illinois guidelines use a flat percentage based off of the obligor’s income only. In a lot of situations, this scenario caused a lot of inequalities, and Judges had little discretion to change it. For example, if two parties had almost equal parenting time and both parties worked, it seemed unfair that one parent had to pay 20% of their income to the other. In other cases, if the parent with the most parenting time had the higher income, it seemed unfair that the lesser earning parent still had to pay 20% of his income without any consideration to the parent’s income.
The new bill which is set to become effective July 1, 2017, will do just that — take both parent’s income into consideration. The new formula will take into consideration a variety of circumstances, such as cases with high childcare expenses, no childcare expenses, and cases with almost equal parenting time.
For shared parenting cases, section 3.6 of the new act states as follows:
“if each parent exercises 146 or more overnights per year with the child, the basic child support obligation is multiplied by 1.5 to calculate the shared care child support obligation. The child support obligation is then computed for each parent by multiplying that parent’s portion of the shared care support obligation by the percentage of time the child spends with the other parent. The respective child support obligations are then offset, with the parent owing more child support paying the difference between the 2 amounts.”
Although this may require more work for the attorneys and the judges involved, the end result is likely more equitable than a strict 20% or 32% guideline amount that was blind to the actual circumstances of the parties. However, the new act could also increase litigation as parties will want to increase their parenting time in order to reduce their child support obligation.