What is a Child Support Deviation?

MoneyCurrent statute in Illinois relevant to child support sets forth specific percentages of net income that a supporting party must pay for the support of their minor child(ren).  For example, Illinois law provides that for one child, a payor of support pays 20% of their net income, and for two minor children, they pay 28% of their net income, and so on.  Parties going through a divorce or setting child support in a parentage case often ask if the support can be modified upwards or downwards.  This is called a child support deviation, and there must be good cause for this to happen.

Judges have almost complete discretion when deciding whether or not they will deviate child support up or down.  Some instances where they may consider deviating child support downwards are situations where the children’s support would vastly exceed their needs, or, where they have a very high income earning parent.  For example, if a party earns over a million dollars per year and has one minor child, twenty percent of the payor’s net income would be larger than most average American yearly salaries.  The Court might order a lower support number than the twenty percent statutory guideline for one minor child.  This prevents the parent receiving the child support from receiving a wind fall.  However, it is up to judicial discretion and there are no hard rules on this issue, so it is highly circumstantial and dependent upon your situation and your Judge.

The usual situation where a Court may order more child support than what is prescribed under the statute are situations hwne the Court feels it has cause.  Perhaps the obligor (person paying child support) earned $150,000 a year, and decided to quit their job to work at Burger King.  They were not fired, and the Court could find this person voluntarily decreased their income to avoid paying child support.  The Court would then have the discretion to order child support as if the payor were still earning the same large salary and had not become “underemployed”.

Cases where child support deviates either upwards or downwards tend to be few and far between.  For the most part, the statutory guidelines govern support determinations in the state of Illinois, under current law.

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