Ongoing Efforts at Child Support Reform in Illinois

Federal law requires all states to adopt a uniform system for setting presumptive child support obligations. However, the states are not obligated to adopt any specific scheme. As a result, there are two overarching child support formulas states have gravitated toward. Illinois follows the less common of the two, but reform efforts are under way to change the fundamental formula that determines basic child support obligations. 

Illinois follows the percentage of obligor income model. Commentators generally view this system as the simpler and easier to apply because it merely takes a fixed percentage of the payor parent’s income. However, the Illinois Division of Child Support Services has been considering a proposal to switch to the income shares model for child support determinations. 

In the simplest terms, the income shares model works as follows: 

  • The court determines the combined countable income of both parents and sets a basic total child support obligation based on that number. 
  • The court then determines which percentage of that total income is attributable to each parent. For example, if two parents have a combined net monthly income of $5,000 with the custodial parent earning $3,000 per month and the noncustodial parent earning $2,000 per month, the noncustodial parent would be responsible for 40 percent of the total support obligation. 

The general consensus is that the income shares model is more difficult to apply but is also more equitable, especially in cases where the custodial parent has a much higher income than the noncustodial parent. At present, the percentage of obligor income model is still the law in Illinois. Child support and family law attorneys can help you with a fair child support payment determination.

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