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Illinois Child Support: Is it equitable?

Illinois’ child support scheme is not unusual, but in practice it can be so simple as to be unfair. In order to simplify the statutory child support scheme, the legislature determined that in most cases, the so-called non-residential parent (typically the father) shall be ordered to pay a fixed amount of his net income to the residential parent (for the support of the child). The parties, through discovery in the case, determine what the net income of the payor spouse is.

The judge is then expected to apply the fixed guidelines defined by the Illinois legislature to determine the amount of child support to be paid by the non-residential parent to the residential parent. The guidelines are:

Children % of Net Income
1 20%
2 28%
3 32%
4 40%
5 45%
6 or more 50%

The result of this approach can be inequitable. There are many cases where the spouse paying support, though he or she be the non-residential parent, actually spends a significant amount of time and money on the child(ren), but receives no reciprocal support from the other parent (who may earn a substantial income). In Illinois, one is either tagged as the payor, or the payee. Other states have more sophisticated (and more complicated) approaches, and factor in the number of children, along with a factor for the relative incomes of the parties, and a calculation based on the amount of time the party spends in possesion of the child.

I find these more complicated state child support schemes more fair, and equitable. What do you thing about a fixed child support scheme, such as is Illinois’?

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