Child Support Lawyer Chicago, Illinois
What does child support cover?
Child support is meant to cover the basic necessities for a child. This includes keeping a roof over their head, food in the pantry and clothes on their back. More specifically, a Court will consider the following expenses when determining a child support amount: mortgage or rent, utilities, groceries and household expenses, transportation costs, including insurance and gas, clothing and grooming, entertainment, vacations, and any other expenses that are pertinent to maintain the lifestyle the child would have enjoyed if the parents had remained together. In addition to basic child support payments, several categories are given special consideration and require the contribution of one or both parties in addition to a basic child support obligation. These include, educational expenses, health insurance premiums, uncovered medical expenses, child-care, extracurricular expenses, and sometimes camp.
- Educational and Extracurricular Expenses: It is within the Court’s discretion to order one or both of the parties to contribute to a child’s educational and extracurricular expenses in addition to regular child support. This additional expense can be used to contribute to reasonable school and extracurricular costs that are intended to enhance the educational, social, athletic or cultural development of a child. Some examples include tuition, books and supplies, bus fees, field trips, athletic fees, sports equipment and registration fees.
- Health Insurance Premiums: Health insurance premium payments are considered when calculating guideline child support. The amount of the total health insurance premium that is attributable to the child’s coverage is added to the basic child support obligation and allocated between the parties based on their respective net income. For example, if the parents have an equal allocation of the net income (i.e. they have the same income), each parent is responsible for half of the health insurance premium for the child.
- Uncovered Medical Expenses: While a portion of basic child is meant to cover some basic, out-of-pocket medical expenses, the Court can provide that the parents, in addition to basic child support, contribute to a child’s healthcare needs that are not covered by insurance. These expenses can include, but are not limited to, unreimbursed medical, dental, vision or orthodontic expenses, co-pays and prescription medications.
- Child-Care Expenses: Actual expenses that are reasonable and necessary to enable a parent to work, attend school, or to search for employment. The actual expenses are then prorated in proportion to each parent’s percentage of the combined net income.
Who determines child support in Illinois?
Effective July 1, 2017, Illinois has moved to an Income Share model to determine child support. There is a specific formula based upon a study done by the Illinois Department for Family Services wherein the Department determined how much money it takes per month to raise a child at varying levels of the parties’ combined net income. The findings of the Department are now used in calculating basic child support. Two major changes occurred when switching to this model: The income of both parents are now considered in the calculation and the amount of overnight parenting time each parent has with a child can alter the formula. Maintenance awarded to one parent is considered income. Often times, because there is a guideline formulaic calculation and computer programs that calculate guideline child support, most parents can agree on the appropriate amount under the guidelines. If the parents cannot agree, a Judge will consider the net income of both parents and set a child support amount based upon the guidelines.
In the event each parent has at least 146 overnights with a child, the guideline calculation is altered to include a “shared care” calculation. This alteration is based on the premise that if the parents are spending close to equal time with the child(ren) their basic expenses for the children should be similar.
In instances where the combined net income of the parents is greater than $30,000 per month, the guidelines do not necessarily apply. At this income level and above, a Court can consider the reasonable needs of a child and set child support based on those findings.
There is a presumption that the guidelines will apply, unless one of the parents can show that the application of the guidelines would be unjust, inequitable and inappropriate. In order to grant such a deviation, the Court has to make specific findings as to the facts and circumstances that would necessitate the deviation. Some of the reasons to deviate are: Extraordinary medical expenses necessary to preserve the life or health of a parent or of another child of one of the parents; and additional expenses incurred a child who has special medical, physical or developmental needs.
What can cause child support to change?
Child support is always modifiable, as is contribution to additional child-related expenses. In order to modify child support, a parent has to show that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances”. While this is a legal phrase of art, the “substantial change” is usually related to the reduction or increase of one of the parties’ incomes. However, other changes may also qualify, such as a sizable increase in health insurance premiums, or the child’s expenses increasing.
A change in parenting time can also trigger a modification of support and the income share model factors in parenting time. If a parenting time schedule is modified so that each parent has at least 146 overnights, child support is drastically effected because it would be calculated using the “shared care” model as opposed to just the income share model.
It should also be noted that the change in the statute is not a substantial change in circumstances and a Court will not modify an existing child support order because the law has changed. Anybody seeking a modification must show that something related to their income or expenses has caused a substantial change and is substantial enough to modify child support.
How does your Chicago child support law firm provide services for child-support cases that make you stand out?
Our Chicago child support attorneys at Katz & Stefani have the experience and the expertise to analyze very complex income situations. Sometimes income and expenses can be difficult to determine, especially with business owners, income from multiple streams and complex personal issues. However, our lawyers were instrumental in drafting the 2016 amendments to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act, as well as the 2017 amendment regarding child support. This gives our attorneys a deep understanding of how to apply the child support guidelines to each client’s individual situation to make sure that any child support payments are fair, that proper amounts of child support are being paid and that a child’s needs are being met.
At Katz & Stefani, LLC, our family law attorney in Chicago, IL focuses on the following practice areas:
- Child Custody
- Cohabitation Agreements
- Collaborative Divorce
- Grandparents Rights
- Jewish Divorce
- Prenuptial Agreement
- Spousal Support
Can you give an example how you’ve helped one of your clients in a Child Support issue?
Our attorney was presented with a Petition to Terminate or Modify Child Support filed by a client’s ex-husband. He had been released from his executive position at a very large company and his severance had terminated. In addition, the parties had just litigated a change in parenting time and now had a 50/50 schedule. My client was a stay-at home mom, but did have a sizable income from investments and dividends. Her ex-husband had multiple income streams, not only his employment, but investment income, deferred benefit income, and some smaller commission-like income from sitting on a number of boards. Our experienced lawyers were able to unpack his various income streams and impute income to him based upon his past employment. While we did not hire an expert in this case, our firm was able to prove in Court that not only should his child support not terminate, it should be increased based on his actual net income and his imputed income from his historic earnings and earning potential.
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