Effective July 1, 2017, the Illinois Legislature will change the formula used to determine child support. The current “Percentage of Income” formula will be changed to an “Income Shares” formula. For Illinois parents who pay child support, divorce attorneys in Illinois can explain the differences between the two formulas and how they impact child support payments.
Changes in Child Support Calculations
Under the current “Percentage of Income” law, child support is based on the net income of the parent who pays child support. Net income is defined as gross income minus certain specified deductions. The Percentage of Income formula breaks down child support payments as 20 percent for one child, 28 percent for two children, 32 percent for three children, and 40 percent for four children.
Under the new “Income Shares” law, child support will calculated based on the combined adjusted net income of both parents. The Income Shares formula considers that when a family is intact each parent should contribute to the expenses and the care of the children, per existing child support agreements drawn up through divorce attorneys in Illinois. Under the Income Shares formula the court will consider income based on the following:
- The income of the residential parent
- Parenting time
- Additional expenses of both parents
- Employment history, including unemployment
Under the new Income Shares Statute, Illinois child support obligations will be determined by first calculating the net income of each parent. The net incomes of each parent are then combined to determine the “Total Family Income.” Once Total Family Income is determined, it will be compared to child expense estimates of an average family with similar income and number of children. For example, if there are two children and the Total Family Income is $60,000, with $30,000 spent on the two children, the court looks at each parent’s percentage of the total income. If the father makes 60 percent of the total income and is the parent who pays child support, annual child support payments would total 60 percent of the $30,000 spent on the two children, which would be $18,000 per year.
When calculating “parenting time”, if a parent physically takes care of a child for at least 146 overnights a year, the basic child support obligation will be multiplied by 1.5 percent to calculate the shared income child support obligation. The child support obligation of each parent will then be calculated by multiplying each parent’s shared income obligation by the percentage of parenting time spent with the child or children in question. The parent who owes more child support pays the difference between the two amounts to the other parent.
Divorce attorneys in Illinois may be necessary to explain the calculation of parenting time. Complex issues may cause disagreements between divorced parents who are struggling to reach a good parenting plan. With the 146 nights per year rule, disagreements may be based on a financial outcome, rather than a parenting plan that’s best for the child, if one parent decides to seek 146 nights of parenting time just to save on child support payments.
Definition of Income
The 2017 Income Shares Statute calculates income in a slightly different way than the current Percentage of Income Statute. Under the new law, the following items are considered income:
- Spousal maintenance (formerly called “alimony”)
- Social Security and other retirement benefits
- Social Security Disability
The Court can also order a contribution to a child’s health care expenses, extracurricular activities, school expenses and child care expenses, which can include special camps when school is not in session.
If a parent is unemployed or voluntarily underemployed, there is a court presumption that the income is 75 percent of the most current United States Department of Health and Human Services Federal Poverty Guidelines for a family of one person. In such cases, a minimum child support payment of $40.00 per month, per child will be entered by the court.
Public benefits pursuant to a means-tested program such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and child support for other children in the household are not considered income.
Currently, there is no time limit on the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services to create guidelines and tables for the new Shared Incomes Statute, even though the new law goes into effect on July 1, 2017. If guidelines and tables are not completed by July 1, 2017, new child support laws can not be enforced. Divorce attorneys in Illinois can address child support questions and problems that may occur if guidelines can’t be legally enforced on the proposed date. Until new guidelines and tables are enforced, it’s impossible to predict child support obligations under the Shared Incomes Statute.