What is child support?

Child Support is exactly what it sounds like, financial support for the children of the marriage or relationship. Child support is meant to support the daily living of the children (which includes food, clothing, a place to live, etc.). In addition to this basic child support, a parent may be ordered to pay for all or a portion of additional items including, but not limited to, health insurance, child care, extracurricular activities, educational expenses, medical expenses not covered by insurance, etc. While this sounds simple, this gets complicated quickly, particularly due to the interaction between visitation (parenting time) and child support.

How is child support calculated?

For families with a combined annual net income of $500,000 or less, Child support in Illinois is calculated with a formula using an income share model. That means that the Court considers the incomes of both parties, the amount of parenting time of both parties, and approximates the proportion of income that the child would have received if the parents were together.

In calculating child support, the Court considers the net incomes of the parties and the number of overnights each parent has to determine how much child support will be provided to the parent who has the greater share of parenting time. In other words, the amount of parenting time you have can impact the child support award. For example:

Child Support Lawyer | Maria Citino | Citino Family Law

This chart, while simple, demonstrates the cause of much litigation between couples. The reduction of support for parents with 40-50% of parenting time is well intentioned, but poorly executed. For example, in the chart above, if Dad had 145 overnights, he would have 39.72% of overnights.  But his monthly child support payment would still be the full amount of $2,193.

However, if he had one additional overnight, 146, he would have 40% of overnights and his monthly child support would be reduced by 40% to $1,316. That one additional overnight results in a child support change of $10,524 per year. 

This standardized system does not apply if your family makes more than $500,000 net per year (which allows the Court to make an award the Court believes is reasonable), nor does it always take into account the unique circumstances or financial goals of families. In some cases, it appropriate to ask the Court to deviate from the standardized guidelines based on the unique circumstances of the case. 

Whether you are paying support or receiving support, we will make sure you have a fair settlement or judgment.

Is child support supposed to cover all of your children’s expenses?

The short answer is no.  In addition to basic child support, Courts can order either/both parents to provide for all or a portion of additional expenses. The Court can order either or both parents to provide health insurance for the children, to contribute to uncovered medical expenses, dental expenses, prescription costs, orthodontic costs, and vision costs.

In addition, the Court can order either or both parents to contribute towards school expenses, extracurricular expenses, and other expenses for the child’s “educational, athletic, social, or cultural development.”

When can child support change?

Child support can be modified, but a parent has to show that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” Generally, those changes are a significant increase or decrease in income, different healthcare needs of the child, modification to the allocation of parenting time, emancipation of the child, or an increase in the financial resources of the child (like gaining an inheritance).

A child support lawyer will assist you in making a modification request that includes relevant information and documentation that shows a modification to the child support judgment is necessary.

Child support can be complicated, but we will make sure you understand the best option for you.

Contact Citino Family Law for help with child support issues 

If you are going through a divorce or are involved in a child custody dispute, it is critical to speak with an experienced child support lawyer. You need the security of knowing that your child support order will be calculated accurately and fairly.