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Illinois Child Support

Attorney Townsend Discusses Child Support on Good Day Stateline
Attorney Townsend discusses myths and gives plenty of advice about child support.

Our state’s child support law is found in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, which states that the duty to pay child support includes health care. Non-residential parents are also frequently required to pay for the costs of schooling, extra-curricular costs, and daycare expenses. As children become young adults, the judge has discretion to require either or both parents to pay towards the adult educational expenses of children in college, including tuition, transportation expenses, and the cost of room and board. Pro Legal Care LLC uses sophisticated software to determine the computation of domestic support obligations. Our child support calculator program assures that the proper numbers are used. Our family law software also includes an Illinois maintenance calculator, so you do not face disproportionate and unfair outcomes. We can also assist you in determining the best method for child support collection, child support enforcement, and working with state agencies to assist you.

Illinois child support laws provide guidelines to family Court judges, but judges can decide that applying the guidelines is inappropriate under special circumstances. Family Court judges have discretion to deviate from the child support guidelines provided by law, so long doing so is in the best interests of the children and the judge considers at least one of the following factors: (1) the financial resources and needs of the children, (2) the financial resources and needs of the parents, (3) the standard of living the children would have enjoyed had the parents not divorced, and (4) the physical and emotional condition of the children and their educational needs.

Illinois Child Support Percentage

Illinois child support is up to the discretion of the judge based on guidelines provided by statute. Illinois judges are still grappling with the child support law that went into effect July 1, 2017. The child support model provides for table that uses financial information and economic data of the parents to determine the proper amount of child support that should be paid. A pro-rated amount is then utilized to determine how much each parent should contribute to their child or children. Although the old approach to determine child support in Illinois made the income of the non-residential parent the only focus, the income sharing model takes the income of both parties into consideration.

Child support in Illinois is now calculated based upon the parents’ combined net income estimated to have been allocated for the support of the child if the parents were living together in an intact household. The revised Illinois child support calculation is particularly important in circumstances with parents that both have significant amounts of their own parenting time. When each parent have a substantial amount of parenting time, the circumstances constitute “shared parenting.” One reason for the replacement of the previous Illinois child support model, the “percentage of obligor” approach, caused unfair results for families where one or both parents have unusually high or unusually low. Another stated goal of the Illinois child support statute is to ensure more consistent treatment of parents in similar circumstances.

Illinois Child Support Calculator

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services offers a child support calculator at this link.  You can use this calculator to estimate what you may be eligible to receive or required to pay. Per the IDHFS website, keep in mind:

The Illinois Child Support Estimator is designed to provide a general idea of a child support amount in accordance with the Illinois child support guidelines (750 ILCS 5/505) based upon the information you enter.  This estimator is for informational purposes only.  The Department of Healthcare and Family Services-Division of Child Support Services assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the child support amount that you see after you enter the information.

This calculator is only an estimate and you may still want professional help from a licensed attorney in order to pursue changes to your child support ordered by the court.

You can also seek help from the State of Illinois at no cost to you through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services website for child support options.

Child Support Enforcement

The law provides several avenues of relief to recover back child support and to the enforcement of ongoing child support. Illinois family statutes provide that the driver’s license of a person too far behind on child support can be suspended. This can be seriously detrimental to persons whose employment or livelihood depends on their ability to drive. Furthermore, a person’s failure to pay child support can also lead to the revocation of their fishing license and hunting license. Illinois law also provides for the suspension of a professional license for failing to pay child support, in some cases, and the judge may even seize retirement accounts to apply towards unpaid back child support.

Illinois State Disbursement Unit

Anyone who pays child support in Illinois should be aware of the Illinois State Disbursement Unit.  Often referred to as the SDU, it is the centralized location for all child support payments.  The non-custodial parent tenders their child support payment to the SDU, and the SDU disburses the payments to the custodial parent.  There is a fee assessed annually for using the State Disbursement Unit, which falls on the non-custodial parent or the person paying child support.  The annual fee is approximately $36 for those paying child support in Illinois.  The benefit of the SDU is keeping track of all disbursements and payments for those paying child support.

The SDU is also a tool to pay maintenance or alimony, but only in conjunction with child support.

You can order a receipt of all payments made through the SDU and the SDU will provide you a list of all child support payments or the entire transaction history.  This transaction history of the SDU is available at the office of Child Support Enforcement in the Winnebago County Courthouse. This printout will not include payments made directly to the custodial parent, so any cash, checks, or money orders that are given personally or directly in the mail to the other parent will not show up in the payment history of the SDU.  This is important because judges in Winnebago County often use the history from the SDU to determine whether child support has been paid.

The payments made outside the SDU become the burden of the person paying child support to prove.  Judges generally give you credit for all of the payments that appear in the payment history, but it becomes your responsibility to show any direct payments that are made outside of the state disbursement unit. The person paying child support should want all payments to go through the SDU for this reason, because you may not get credit for payments that are made straight to the other parent. Not only is it difficult for people to keep track of all of their payments and organize all receipts, but sometimes the other parent will dispute the purpose of the payment. Judges believe that many parents, or couples, or former couples, will exchange money for other reasons besides child support. You are also free to pay beyond your child support obligations or for extra special expenses that are not required of you under the law. This is why you should always pay through the SDU.

In many cases, the judge begins with the premise that cash child support payments constitute a gift that does not count as child support. Checks and money orders can also be considered gratuitous if they are not sent and received through the SDU, and child support payments are all required to through the Illinois State Disbursement Unit unless good cause is shown.

Hiring a Child Support Attorney

Whether your child support case is part of a Rockford divorce or you are navigating the custody laws for unmarried parents, Attorney Zachary Townsend and his team at Pro Legal Care LLC can help you build the roadmap for your family’s route forward.  Call us today at (815) 200-8802 for a free initial consultation in your child support case.

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