By Lyn C. Conniff and Elizabeth A. Teague
Illinois follows the Percentage of Income Model for calculating child support. The current law (750 ILCS 5/505) sets child support by a percentage of the net income of the party paying support (generally the non-custodial parent) based on the number of children:
While the above formula is simple to apply, it often has inequitable financial results. For example, the parent receiving support may have a higher income than the parent paying support. Or, consider two parents with substantially equal parenting time and substantially equal incomes – the current statute provides no specific mechanism to take these factors into account.
However, a change is coming….Income Sharing is on its way!
The Income Shares Model for child support uses the incomes of both parents to determine an appropriate level of child support. The Income Shares Model is presently used in thirty-eight (38) states. Legislation, HB3982, which would establish the Income Shares Model in Illinois, is currently before the House Rules Committee.
At the core of the Income Shares Model is a table of parents’ income levels and the costs to meet the needs of their child (ren). The Department of Healthcare and Family Services of Illinois will create a table which “reflects the percentage of combined net income that parents living in the same household in [Illinois] ordinarily spend on their children.” HB3982. The premise is that by using such a table, child support is then based on the actual expenditures for children by families at the same level of combined-income.
Further, the Income Shares Model provides specific guidance to calculate child support when the parents have substantially equal parenting time, something which is missing entirely from the current Percentage of Income Model. This calculation comes into effect “[i]f each parent exercises 146 or more overnights per year with the child” which is the equivalent of each parent having at least 40% of the parenting time. Child support in a shared parenting situation is based on each parent’s percentage of time with the child, and then the child support owed by each parent is off-set to determine which parent has an obligation to pay child support to the other.
HB3982 also describes a more specific model for each parent to contribute to child care expenses. HB3982 states “the court, in its discretion, in addition to the basic child support obligation, may order either or both parents…to contribute to the reasonable child care expenses of the child.” HB3982 then further defines child care expenses as “actual annualized monthly child care expenses reasonable necessary to enable a parent…to be employed, attend education and training activities, or job search, and includes after-school care and all work-related child care expenses incurred while receiving education or training to improve employment opportunities” and “may include camps when school is not in session.” Unlike current law, HB3982 specifically addresses how to share child care expenses. “Child care expenses shall be prorated in proportion to each parent’s percentage share of combined parental net income, and added to the basic child support obligation.”
Further, HB3982 specifically states that “the court, in its discretion, may order either or both parents…to contribute to the reasonable school and extracurricular activity expenses” of a child and the court “may also order either or both parents to contribute to the reasonable health care needs of the child not covered by insurance, including, but not limited to, unreimbursed medical, dental, orthodontic, or vision expenses and any prescription medication for the child not covered under the child’s health or medical insurance.”
Although the Income Shares Model is not yet law in Illinois, it is on the way. The attorneys at Conniff Law Offices are monitoring the status of the new child support guidelines and will be working with our clients to prepare for the coming shift to the Income Shares Model. Contact the experienced family law attorneys at Conniff Law Offices to discuss how the Income Shares Model might impact you.