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In August, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed HB 3982 into law. This bill alters the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and makes sweeping changes in how Illinois’ courts will calculate child support obligations. Instead of focusing only on the paying parent’s income to determine the necessary amount of child support, the new “Income Shares” model will take both parent’s incomes into consideration. This new law goes into effect July 1, 2017.

Current Illinois Child Support Law

Section 505 of the Act outlines Illinois’ current child support law. The statute considers the income of the parent paying support and then bases the percentage of net income to be paid on the number of children involved. For example, support for one child is 20 percent of the paying parent’s net income but three children receive 32 percent of his or her net income. The income of the parent receiving support is never taken into account.

Many legislators and other advocates believe this model does not consider the modern family structure when determining support and the end result may not be equitable between the parents who are both financially responsible for the child. Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park), who sponsored the bill, referred to the current model as an archaic law.

New Child Support Guidelines in July 2017

Under the new law, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services is to create guidelines, worksheets, and “a table that reflects the percentage of combined net income that parents living in the same household in this State ordinarily spend on their children.” Illinois will now be the 39th state to use a shared income model.

This new law does more than take both parent’s incomes into account though. It also considers parenting time. Courts will look at how many nights each parent has a minor child. This is particularly important for parents who share parenting time or have a split care situation where each parent has at least one child. Child support may not be necessary if each parent already has similar parenting time. Under a split care arrangement, the court will look at the duty owed by each parent to the other, and the parent with the higher obligation will pay the difference.

HB 3982 also provides clarity on the expenses both parents must contribute to and that could cause a deviation in the child support ordered, including child care, school activities, extracurricular activities, health insurance or medical expenses. For example, the new law expands on the meaning of child care expenses, stating they can include deposits on child care programs, camps, and other expenses necessary to enable a parent to work, go to school or receive training.

New Law is Not a Reason for Modification

The new child support law goes into effect on July 1, 2017, and will matter to child support decisions made after this date. The new law is not a substantial change in circumstances requiring a modification of an existing child support obligation. Parents do not have to return to court to change their support agreement once this new law is in place, however they may want to discuss how the new law could impact their support obligation or the amount that they receive with an experienced attorney.

A Child Support Lawyer is Here to Help

If you are currently going through a custody or child support battle, call the experienced family law attorneys of Fay, Farrow & Associates at 630-961-0060 or contact us online. We can explain your rights as a parent and help you obtain the child support arrangement you need.

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