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Joliet family law attorneyChild support is an important source of financial assistance for a single parent. If you are an unmarried or divorced parent, you may have questions and concerns about getting your child support. You may wonder if your child’s other parent is still required to pay support even if he or she is unemployed. The answer to this question depends on the reason for the unemployment and other factors.

Is the Unemployment Voluntary or Involuntary?

Millions of parents have lost their jobs or had to find lower-paying work due to COVID-19 shutdowns. They may be doing everything they can to afford their child support obligation but end up falling short of the expected amount. On the other hand, some parents attempt to evade child support responsibilities by claiming that they cannot find adequate employment. The first question that must be answered regarding child support obligations for unemployed or underemployed parents is whether unemployment or underemployment is voluntary. Has the parent quit his or her job or been laid off? Has the parent made genuine efforts to gain suitable employment? If the parent’s unemployment is voluntary, is this unemployment in the child’s best interests?

Income Shares Method for Child Support Calculations

Illinois uses a child support calculation method called “income shares.” Each parent’s net income is used to determine a child support obligation that is reasonable and affordable while still providing the financial support the child needs. According to the formula, the lower a parent’s income, the less he or she pays in child support. However, If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed and this is not in the child’s best interests, the court may use the parent’s potential income to determine child support. This is the income that the parent could be earning if he or she were fully employed. If a parent is involuntarily unemployed or underemployed and makes a legitimate effort to find and maintain adequate employment, the parent’s actual income will be used to determine the child support obligation.


Bolingbrook child support lawyerWhen most people get a divorce, they no longer live together. This can be problematic for couples who have children, because the question of where the children will reside must be settled. These days, it is not unusual for both the mother and the father to have equal or similar parenting time. If the parenting time is not equal, the parent who has the child the majority of the time will typically be responsible for providing child support. In Illinois, a child will receive support payments until they turn 18 or 19, as long as they are still attending high school.

Basic Child Support Calculations

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has set forth specific rules for child support, including how to calculate the amount of the payments. First, each parent’s monthly net income is calculated. Then, both parents’ monthly net incomes are added together. Next, the number that corresponds with the parents’ combined monthly income is taken from the basic child support obligation table. The amount from the table is the amount that should be used by the parents each month to meet the child’s basic needs.

Who Pays What?

Now that you know how much should be paid each month for your child, you must determine how much each parent is responsible for providing. This is determined by looking at the percentages of each parents’ monthly contribution to the combined net income. If a parent’s income makes up 62 percent of the household’s net monthly income, then that parent is responsible for paying 62 percent of the basic child support obligation amount. 

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