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.
I cannot speak for the Illinois legislature, but the goal of these new laws seems to be a modernization of Illinois divorce custody and child support statutes, to bring these laws into the 21st century and join the majority of states that have shared parenting and income shares models. The other goal seems to be one of fairness, as many payor parents felt that, under the old laws, they were relegated as parents to occasional “visitation” status with their beloved kids, and as unappreciated check writers for the benefit of the primary residential parent’s bank account.
If you have any questions regarding the new child “custody” laws, and the July 2017 change to the income shares model, please feel free to contact my Firm for a consultation.