Income Shares: The New Illinois Child Support Law

Effective July 1, 2017, Illinois will join thirty-nine other states, in addition to Washington D.C., Guam and the Virgin Islands, that use an “Income Shares” model for determining child support.  Currently, Illinois applies a “Percentage of Income” formula that applies a set percentage to the supporting parent’s net income.  However, on August 12, 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law House Bill 3982, which will become effective on July 1, 2017, as Illinois’ new child support statute incorporating the “income shares” model.

The assumption behind the “Income Shares” model is that when a family is intact then each parent contributes to the expenses and the care of the children.  For purposes of determining child support, the new Illinois statute elaborates on the current child support statute, 750 ILCS 5/505, and provides additional guidance for the court to consider, including, the residential parent’s income, the parents’ additional expenses, working potential or working history if unemployed or underemployed, and parenting time.

How to Calculate Child Support Under the New Statute

Under the new statute, the child support obligation is determined by first calculating the net income of each parent. The net incomes of each parent are then combined to determine the total income of the family (“Total Family Income”).

The Total Family Income is then compared to economic estimates of an average intact family with similar income and number of children.  A chart clarifying these details has not yet been pusblished.  The estimated expense is the basic child support obligation, which can be adjusted for additional expenses.  Additional expenses include:  child care expenses, extracurricular activity expenses, health insurance, and educational expenses.  The statute provides guidance as to which expenses are considered under each category and how the court should consider each expense in relation to each parent and his or her child support obligation.  If the court decides that either or both parent should contribute to certain child expenses, then the basic child support obligation will be prorated for each additional expense in proportion to a  parent’s percentage share of the Total Family Income, and the additional expenses will then be added to the child support obligation.

The new statute also provides for an adjustment or “offset” to child support for shared parenting.  If a parent is in the physical care of a child for at least 146 overnights a year, the court may first multiply the basic child support obligation by 1.5 to calculate the “shared care child support obligation.”  Then, each parent’s child support obligation is calculated by multiplying each parent’s portion of the “shared care child support obligation” by the percentage of time the parent is allocated parenting time with the minor child or children.  The parent who owes more child support pays the difference between the two amounts to the other parent.  As more information is released, we can clarify this change in the law further.

New Statute’s Effect on Existing Child Support Obligations

In anticipation of the practical effect the new guidelines will have on existing child support obligations, the new statute provides that the enactment of the new child support law does not in and of itself constitute a substantial change in circumstances for purposes of modifying past-ordered support.  See 750 ILCS 5/510(a).  Upon petitioning the court, the court may modify an existing child support obligation if it finds that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred for reasons other than the change in statute, and then the court would apply the new statute’s guidelines.  Id.  Nevertheless, the court may experience an influx of petitions for modification of child support in July 2017 simply due to the enactment of the new statute.

If you would like to learn more about the new statue and how it may affect you in the future, please contact the helpful, compassionate family law professionals at the Conniff Law Offices.

 

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