5 Common Questions About Child Support in IL

If you’re getting divorced and have children, you may receive or have to pay child support. But, what does child support pay for and how does child support work in Illinois?

It can feel overwhelming to navigate the complexities of child support by yourself. By taking the time to understand the basic concepts underlying child support, you can have a better grasp on the topic, which is crucial to feeling comfortable and confident moving forward in your case and after your case is settled.

Below are the 5 most common questions we receive at Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. about child support. These questions will help lay a foundation for your understanding and demystify some of the intricacies of child support in Illinois.

  1. Which parent is responsible for paying child support?

While there is no such thing as “custody” in Illinois any longer, the parent the children live with most of the time is the parent who will receive child support. In many cases, this is still the mother. However, this isn’t to say the father is never the parent who receives support.

There are also some divorce cases where child support is a “reserved” issue. This means that child support won’t come into effect at the time of the divorce. Instead, the court “reserves” the issue to consider it in the future, if necessary.

It’s important to note that if child support is awarded in any case, you will return to court periodically because child support will not stay the same amount until each child turns 18. In fact, child support often fluctuates if the spouse paying support receives a new job in which he/she earns more or less than he/she was at the time of judgment, or if the needs of the children change in a significant way (i.e. as they get older and join more extracurricular activities, etc.).

  1. How much will I have to pay in child support?

The child support laws in Illinois are changing.

Currently, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act requires that spouses pay a set percentage of their net income for child support based on their number of children. For example, if you have one child, you will pay 20 percent of your net income as child support and for two children, it’s 28 percent of your net income. The court retains the ability to adjust totals as well. For example, if you earn $500,000 net income annually, 20 percent of that income is more than is necessary to provide for one child.

Beginning in July 2017, Illinois is moving to an income shares model. This model will account for both the paying spouse’s income and the receiving spouse’s income. This model is a more accurate way to allocate support responsibilities because it considers both incomes rather than just the paying spouse’s income.

You can learn more about the income shares model here.

  1. How do I make child support payments? 

There are two primary options to make child support payments.

The first is that you pay your spouse directly each month. This option is less common because many spouses don’t trust their former spouses to pay.

The more common option is that child support payments are withheld from paychecks and sent to the State Disbursement Unit. The State Disbursement Unit will then send the payments to your former spouse.

  1. Will child support payments change over time?


Let’s take a practical example to illustrate the point: You get divorced when your children are 5 and 3 years old. At this age, child support will include considerations like daycare or other child care services. As your children age, they will no longer need day care. However, they’ll likely join some extracurricular activities.

It’s easy to see how child support costs will change over time. Child-related issues, such as support amounts, often take center stage in post-decree matters. In fact, this will be one of the primary reasons you return to court after you’re divorced, in addition to spousal support matters.

You can also return to court if you need to modify your child support. For example, you may get a new job and earn less than you were at the job prior when the child support total was set. If so, you can return to court to lower your support obligation accordingly.

  1. What happens if I don’t receive the support payments or if I’m supposed to pay and do not do so?

These are two sides of different coins because there are legal remedies in both situations.

If you’re supposed to receive child support and don’t, you can take your spouse to court to collect on the arrearages, or unpaid payments. If you’re supposed to pay and don’t, you will likely be brought before the court to offer a legitimate reason for the failure to pay. If you don’t have a reason, you will be held in contempt of court for violating a court order and need to pay.

Learn More With the Assistance of a Naperville Divorce Lawyer

If you’re thinking about filing for divorce but aren’t sure about how child support will work, contact Larry at 630-470-9990. Larry has over 35 years of experience in divorce and family law and will relies on it to ensure fair child support payments for those who pay and those who receive child support.

Schedule your free, 30-minute consultation by contacting Larry or requesting an appointment using our simple, online form. We look forward to speaking with you and answering any lingering questions you have about child support in Illinois!