One scenario that is becoming more and more common is when the custodial parent earns more money than the non-custodial parent. This is becoming more of the trend because either 1) more fathers are getting custody of their children, and men tend to be the higher-earning parent, or 2) women are becoming a stronger force in the workplace and are surpassing their male counter-parts in terms of income. In fact, we get a lot of cases where the women earn just as much if not more than their husbands.
As a result, it often seems unfair when the lower-income parent ends up almost destitute paying 20-40% of his income in child support, if not more if you calculate contribution towards extracurricular activities and daycare or school expenses; meanwhile, their ex-spouse is living the high life. As the law stands right now, a non-custodial parent must pay guidelines support unless they can appeal to the trial judge why there should be a deviation in guidelines. Obtaining a deviation can be difficult as a judge must make a finding as to why there is a deviation and they often look for compelling causes. The fact that your spouse makes more money than you is not often considered a compelling cause.
However, the Illinois legislature is currently cooking up a different type of child support model – Income Shares Model – to calculate child support. This proposal has been in the works for quite some time as several entities need to review it and make changes. For example, the income share model would greatly affect the state welfare system and tax consequences, and as such, those laws would need to be revised to conform to the income share model.
The income share model is basically a four-step process: 1) calculates the income of the parents and adds it together; 2) a “basic child support obligation” is computed based on the income of the parents; 3) a “presumptive child support obligation” is then computed by adding expenses such as child care, medical and other child expenses; and 4) the presumptive child support obligation is prorated between each parent based on his or her proportionate share of total income. The obligor’s obligation is payable as child support, while the obligee’s obligation is retained and presumed to be spent directly on the child.
This system seems to better address inequalities in income in determining a child support obligation. However, this model is not the law yet. As such, for now, any alleged unfairness or inequality should be addressed by requesting a deviation in child support guidelines.