Raising a child involves all types of expenses, both predictable and unexpected. Children are entitled to financial support from both parents, whether parents are married or not, but if too heavy a burden is placed on one parent, the child will be the one to suffer. At Rogers Law Office, I am well-versed in Illinois laws on child support. I have 15 years of experience working in State’s Attorney’s Offices of Support Enforcement and representing the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. I strive to negotiate and enforce fair child support arrangements. I help clients in Illinois to demonstrate the needs of their children as well as each parent’s financial ability. My priority is to reach a fair agreement that protects your rights and helps your child to grow up safely and securely.
Illinois recently adopted the income shares” model for child support, which requires a multi-step calculation to find the couple’s basic child support obligation. A court will:
The basic child support obligation is an estimate of the costs of raising the children, which include housing, clothes, food, transportation, medical expenses, extracurricular activities, entertainment and education.
To calculate each parent’s share of the support obligation, the court will:
The basic child support obligation is the amount the state expects each parent to spend on their children. However, there is usually a higher-earning parent and a parent with whom the children live more often. The court looks at the child custody arrangement to determine how much of the higher-earning parent’s obligation should be paid to the other parent.
Parents can also ask the court to deviate from the guidelines for extraordinary expenses, such as private school tuition, enrichment programs or a child’s special needs. The court considers many factors, such as:
The court ultimately makes its determination based on the best interests of the children. Illinois child support obligations last until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school but cannot exceed the 19th birthday.
Parents can petition the court for modification of child support orders when there has been a significant change in the child’s need for support or the noncustodial parent’s finances. It’s important to understand that informal arrangements to reduce child support are not valid in court. So, if your child’s custodial parent has told you not to worry about payments until you’re back on your feet, be aware that back support continues to accrue and you are liable for it.
If an obligor parent has the ability to pay but does not, the recipient parent can ask the court to take enforcement measures, which can include seizure of bank assets, suspension of a driver’s license or professional license and the interception of tax refunds. Jail time for contempt of court is also a possibility.
Children fare best when their parents can be cordial and respectful of one another. Through the structured process of mediation, parents can put aside their differences and focus on a topic on which they tend to agree —their child’s well-being. Mediation presents a forum for creating fair child support plans that allow both parents to share in the financial obligations of raising their children. As a skilled negotiator, I can guide the process toward equitable solutions that often save time and expense.
In some cases, litigation is necessary to resolve disputes over each spouse’s fair support obligations. I carefully prepare for litigation to achieve an equitable arrangement for your child. In addition, if your spouse has fallen behind on child support payments, you may need assistance to collect the money that rightfully belongs to your child. And when financial problems or the changing needs of your children alter your circumstances, I can petition the court for a modification of the child support order.