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IL family lawyerWhether you are an unmarried parent or one that will soon be divorced, you may have several questions about child support. Illinois law requires both of a child’s parents to contribute to the child’s financial needs. Most commonly, this is accomplished by the parent with less parenting time paying child support to the parent with greater parenting time. Of course, child support is not always as straightforward as it seems.

How Much Child Support Does a Parent Pay?

The amount a parent pays in child support varies from case to case and is typically calculated using a set formula. The most influential factor in Illinois child support payments is the difference between the parents’ net incomes. The greater the difference between their respective incomes, the greater the paying parent’s contribution.

Does Child Support Decrease if Parents Have Equal Parenting Time?

You may wonder if a parent has to pay as much in child support if they are responsible for a significant portion of the parenting time (formerly called visitation). When both parents have 40 percent or more of the parenting time, meaning 146 overnights or more a year, this is called a “shared parenting” child custody arrangement. Child support may be decreased proportionally.

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Will County family law attorneyChild support is a crucial resource for divorced and unmarried parents. However, meeting your child support obligation can be extremely difficult when you have no source of income. If you or your child’s other parent was fired, laid off, or quit his or her job, you may wonder how this will affect child support. Do unemployed and underemployed parents still have to pay child support? What happens if a parent voluntarily quits his or her job?

Child Support Calculations When a Parent is Unemployed

The amount that a parent pays in child support in Illinois is based on the “income shares” model. Both parents’ net incomes are used to determine an appropriate child support obligation. When one parent has no income, this obviously affects child support calculations considerably. However, the reason that a parent is unemployed also factors heavily into the situation.

Involuntary Unemployment

If a parent was laid off or terminated and makes honest attempts to regain suitable employment, the court will likely look much more favorably on his or her situation. The unemployed parent may be granted relief through a lower child support payment amount. However, unemployed parents cannot simply stop making payments or pay a lower amount on their own. They will need to seek an official modification of their child support order to lower their child support obligation. Failure to follow the proper procedure to modify child support can result in penalties for nonpayment.

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Homewood divorce lawyerOne of a parent’s most important responsibilities and legal obligations is to provide financially for their child’s basic needs. Many Illinois parents who are no longer married, or who were never married to their child’s other parent, rely on court-ordered child support to ensure the other parent’s fair contributions. However, married couples are typically left to manage child-related expenses on their own. This can make things difficult for a parent who is still legally married but in the midst of the divorce process, especially if their spouse is withholding income and assets.

If you are trying to get a divorce from a spouse who has abandoned you and your children, or who has cut you off financially, you may be able to petition for temporary child support before your marriage has been legally dissolved. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you understand your options.

Petitioning for Temporary Child Support

Providing for your children’s needs during the divorce process can be challenging, especially with the legal costs you are likely to incur. If you are struggling to provide and your spouse is not contributing, you can request a temporary child support order by filing a petition with the court that has jurisdiction over your divorce. Your petition will need to include a financial affidavit using a standard, statewide form, through which you will have the opportunity to explain your circumstances. You should also include any relevant evidence that supports your affidavit, including your bank statements, pay stubs, and recent tax returns.

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Will County child support enforcement lawyerWhen parents get divorced, there are a number of additional concerns that are unique to their situation. Both you and your co-parent will need to decide who will care for your child when, what parental responsibilities you will each take on, and how much child support will be provided from one parent to another. Most divorcing parents will have some form of child support order assigned to them, unless the parenting is 50/50 and the parents have almost identical incomes. How frequently does this happen? Not very often. 

Child support orders are meant to ensure that the parent with less parenting time is financially supporting their child, even if they do not care for the child as frequently as their co-parent. Unfortunately, child support payments do not always go as smoothly as they should, and your former spouse may not be meeting their payment deadlines each month. If this is the case, there are a few ways to enforce the financial assistance with the help of the court.

Determining the Amount Owed

Before any legal enforcements can be made, a judge must have proof of how much child support has been paid and how much is still owed. Finding documentation of these payments is dependent upon how the support is paid. For those who make payments through the Illinois State Disbursement Unit (SDU) or circuit court’s office, these two offices can provide a list of payments that have already been made and the amount still owed by the paying parent. It is important to keep your own documentation of these payments, in order to compare your records with those from the SDU or circuit court. If your co-parent simply pays you personally on a monthly basis (this is relatively uncommon), you will need to present your own evidence of the missing payments. From there, you can determine how much is still owed to you.

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Can I Be Ordered to Pay College Expenses as Part of My Illinois Divorce?In Illinois, child support stops once the child turns 18 or when they have graduated high school – whichever happens later. Under Illinois divorce law, the court may order a parent to help pay for a child’s college expenses after child support has ended if the child is planning to continue their education. Although child support is required to be paid even for parents who never got married, Illinois does not require college expense payments to be made. If your child is planning to go to college, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney to file a petition for college expense payments to be granted to your child since it will not automatically go into effect.

College Expenses

A support order can include several expenses related to college, such as:

  • Registration and application fees
  • Tuition
  • Room and board (on or off campus)
  • Educational fees
  • Medical and dental insurance
  • Books
  • Travel to and from school
  • Additional expenses

If the court grants college expenses to be paid, child support continues under the Illinois “college expenses” law that applies to non-minor children. 

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