One of the biggest challenges parents face in Illinois family law cases relates to calculating child support under the revised child support statute. In Illinois family law cases, the child support statute requires income information from both parents in order to calculate support, as well as a parenting time schedule.
3 Challenges in Calculating Child Support Under Illinois Law
Under the old Illinois statute, calculating child support it was only required that a parent know their net income and a simple percentage calculation told them what their child support obligation would be. Judges and lawyers could easily calculate a rough estimate for child support off the top of their heads. Now, changes in the child support calculation in Illinois has moved to income sharing which makes things a bit more complicated.
1 – Setting Temporary Child Support
Temporary Support under the Old Statute
First, in a new case, setting a temporary child support order for the pendency of the case was simple. Parties would exchange financial affidavits and it would be easy enough to calculate the obligor’s child support obligation. However, due to the impact that the number of annual overnights has on child support calculations in Illinois, a temporary parenting time schedule is essentially necessary before the Court can enter a temporary child support order.
Temporary Support Under the Revised Statute
Now, a child support order at the beginning of a case is almost always without prejudice and modifiable, especially if it is in place during the pendency, but knowing the parenting time schedule looks like can seriously and significantly impact the child support order. It can even change who the obligor is and who the obligee is in situations where parties earn similar amounts and have nearly equal parenting time. So, temporary support orders during the pendency of the case have become a bit more challenging.
2 – Other Parent’s Income Impact on Child Support Amount
Another challenge under the new statute is that the other party’s income affects your support obligation. If they earn more, you pay less, and vice versa. So, now, suddenly litigants have an interest in the other party’s earnings.
In divorce cases where maintenance is at issue, this has always been the case, but now this is becoming an issue in child support cases, whereas before it did not matter what the obligee earned because it didn’t impact support. The child support statute has taken this into consideration and there is a provision regarding the Court being able to impute income to the obligor when they are underemployed or unemployed.
3 – Attorney Preparation for Child Support Hearing under the New Law
Finally, one of the largest challenges under the revised child support statute is for attorneys and the preparation needed for hearings on child support. Sometimes a party’s earnings are not particularly clear from their pay documents and the Court will need to make a determination as to what the parties’ respective incomes are, at the actual hearing itself. Then, child support will need to be recalculated during the hearing. Attorneys now have to calculate numerous child support scenarios to try and determine the possibility of what the Judge may order at the hearing, so they can ensure they have a properly calculated child support amount at all possible income scenarios.
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Overall, the new statute does have benefits, especially that it takes into consideration the time spent with both parents and the income of both parties. However, additional preparation and information are needed to run child support calculations at the beginning of cases, which can be problematic if that information is not received timely.