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Illinois Child Support Questions: What to Know


If you’re considering divorce in Illinois and have children, child support questions are likely to be at the top of your mind. What most people don’t know is that the divorce process is actually geared toward ensuring your children are cared for both during and after the divorce proceedings. This is with regard to child support considerations and parenting time as well.

Of course, most parents are concerned about how much they are to pay or be paid. In this article, we’ll discuss all of the relevant considerations about child support, including:

  • How much child support you must pay or you will receive
  • What child support covers
  • How to pay child support/how you’ll receive child support
  • College expense considerations
  • How and when child support may be modified; and
  • How to enforce a child support order

How Much Child Support is Owed?

Illinois revised the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act in 2015. These revisions included how child support is calculated. Now, there are minimum percentages a parent must pay out of their net income per child. For example, if you have one child, you must pay 20 percent of your net income as and for child support.

While there are percentages in place as a formula to calculate support, these aren’t hard and fast rules. In fact, the court may amend any of these amounts in consideration of a number of factors. One example is if the spouse who is to pay child support makes a high net income in excess of a rough dollar amount.

Let’s assume your spouse makes $500,000 per year. It is unlikely a court will order him or her to pay 20 percent of their net income because that would be excessive in contrast to what the child actually requires in support. Relatedly, a court may order a parent with one child to pay more than 20 percent of their net income if appropriate, depending on the facts of your case.

As such, it’s important to approach the formulas with an open mind, knowing the court may amend the set amount.

What Child Support Covers 

Child support will cover the basic needs of your child. This may include:

  • Schooling
  • Clothing
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Medical expenses; and
  • Other basic necessities

It’s important to remember that how you use child support money isn’t subject to criticism by the court. However, if your former spouse has reason to believe you aren’t using the money appropriately, he or she may raise an allegation and you’ll have to defend against the complaint.

How to Pay/Receive Child Support

There is no one way to pay or receive child support. How you receive or pay child support will depend largely upon you, your former spouse, and the unique circumstances of your case.

There are generally two methods to pay or receive child support:

  1. Directly – If you trust your former spouse to pay on time, you can exchange money directly. This assumes you have a cordial relationship with your spouse and won’t have a problem collecting the money each month.
  2. Wage Garnishment – Many spouses choose wage garnishment because it’s a simple way to ensure you’ll receive child support payments and do so on time each month.

Your spouse’s employer will handle wage garnishment if you’re receiving child support payments. This means you won’t have to worry about collecting and you will either receive the money via direct deposit or check, depending on your preferences.

It’s important to know that unpaid child support becomes a judgment as a matter of law after 30 days from the date it was due. This means that if your spouse doesn’t pay support on time and more than 30 days passes, you can return to court to demand the money you’re entitled to.

College Expense Considerations

While college education expenses aren’t considered part of child support, it is a child support-related matter.

Most divorce cases reserve the issue of college expenses for a future, undetermined time. This is because most children in divorce cases are still quite a few years from college age, making it more appropriate to reserve the issue until they are in high school and about to move on to college.

Illinois law dictates that both parents may be compelled to contribute to college education expenses. However, the court must divide the expenses fairly based on income and other considerations. This means that if you earn $50,000 per year and your former spouse earns $200,000, your spouse will likely be ordered to pay more. Your child may also be ordered to pay a portion of the expenses.

How and When Child Support in Illinois May be Modified

Child support is always modifiable, as are all child-related issues in divorce. This means you can return to court to reduce or increase the amount of child support if appropriate.

For example, if you are paying child support and lose your job only to secure a lower paying job, you should return to court. Doing so will allow you to reduce your support obligation based on your new net income. The opposite is true as well; if you receive a raise you must return to court and adjust the child support obligation accordingly. In most cases, your former spouse will bring you back to court to adjust the amount of support owed.

How to Enforce a Child Support Order

If your spouse isn’t paying child support, you can return to court to get the arrearages (amount owed). Your Naperville divorce lawyer can file a motion and your former spouse will be forced to appear in court and explain why he or she hasn’t paid.

You may also file an Income Withholding Notice for Support. This will take the amount owed out of your former spouse’s paychecks and send it to the Illinois State Disbursement Unit. The State will then send you the money.

Contact Your DuPage County Divorce Lawyer to Learn More About Illinois Child Support

If you’re considering divorce but are concerned what that means for child support and your child’s well-being, Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. can help. Larry has over 35 years of experience in family and divorce law and will see to it that you receive the support you and your children deserve.

Contact Larry for your free 30-minute consultation by calling us at 630-470-9990. You may also request your free consultation online by filling out our form. We look forward to hearing from you and resolving all Illinois child support issues you may have.

Concentrated on Family Law

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

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About Attorney Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd.

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

We continue to work with clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Lisle, Oswego, Downers Grove, and the surrounding areas to provide one-on-one support and attention that will help you through this difficult time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time. We look forward to offering our expertise and support to you throughout your case and after.