As the calendar year 2016 winds down, and as I approach another hearing on issues of child support next week, I am mindful that Illinois’ longstanding (and to some, draconian) child support statute is going to be replaced by a new and more modern “income shares” approach to setting child support for divorcing parents with minor children.
Under the new statute, child support is calculated by determining the gross income of each parent.Then, with appropriate calculations, the incomes of each parent are then tax affected to determine the individual and total net income of the family. These calculations are usually performed by implementing software programs such as “Family Law Software,” used by my Firm and by many judges on their desktop computers. Once that total number is determined, there will be a published chart that will allow the parties and their attorneys to cross reference the amount of total child support that is found to be applicable to a given family at that income level, and for a given number of children. That total amount is then allocated depending on the percentage of income that each parent contributes to the total.
Thankfully, the new statute also provides for an adjustment to child support for cases where the parties implement shared parenting. Keep in mind that as of January 1, 2016, Illinois abandoned its old approach to “custody” and “visitation,” and implemented a fully updated law that provides for “allocation of parental responsibilities.” If a parent has the physical residence of a child for at least 146 overnights a year, the court may decide to employ the “shared care child support obligation.” Then, the court determines the percentage of time that the non-primary residential parent has with the child or children, and makes a further adjustment downward in the child support obligation.