How Is Support Calculated in Illinois?
If you have children and you and your spouse decide to divorce, the question of support will come up during the court proceedings. Both spousal support and child support must be calculated using a combination of factors, which in turn require truthful accounting of your income and situation. The formulas for calculating both can be quite convoluted, however, and it is in your best interest to have an understanding of how it is done, lest you wind up on the proverbial hook for more than you should be.
The law on spousal support, also referred to as maintenance, was recently changed with the passage of Senate Bill 3231, which took effect on January 1, 2015. While child support must always be ordered if the parties have children, the question of maintenance is discretionary. The judge must take several factors into account in deciding whether or not spousal support is appropriate, including the level of education of both parties, the employment level, and the issue of the standard of living established during the marriage.
Guidelines do exist in Illinois as to the levels of support that are appropriate. If the combined gross income of the couple is less than $250,000 and there is no alternate family obligation (in other words, if a spouse does not owe support to more than one ex-spouse), the court should use the legal guidelines, while if the couple’s gross income is higher, the guidelines do not necessarily need to be used. If they are used, the amount will be approximately 30% of the paying spouse’s gross income minus 20% of the receiving spouse’s income. Duration is determined by multiplying the amount of years the marriage lasted by the applicable modifier.
Unlike maintenance, child support is mandatory if the couple has children that list the parties as mother and father. It is calculated based not off the gross income, as spousal support is, but off the paying parent’s net income. Child support is also based around the basic needs of the child, such as food, shelter and clothing – extra expenses like after-school activities, travel and medical costs may be added on by the court after the fact.
The formula to determine child support is much simpler than that used for maintenance; it simply establishes a percentage of the paying parent’s net income that is due per child. For example, if a divorced parent has two children, they are obligated to pay 28% of their net income in child support. Once the amount has been established, the court then usually enters a Uniform Order of Support, which sets out the amount of support, as well as the payment schedule and the possible penalties for missed payments.
It is important to remember that even if you miss a child support payment, your visitation rights are unaffected. Some spouses try to threaten a loss of visitation rights if support payments are not made, but this is illegal under Illinois law.
Contact A Support Attorney For Help
The support formulas in use in Illinois can be quite complex. Having a good attorney on your side can make all the difference. The dedicated Chicago support attorneys at M. Scott Gordon & Associates have years of experience dealing with child support and spousal support issues, and we will put our knowledge to work getting you the optimal outcome for both you and your family. Contact our offices in Chicago or Skokie to set up an initial appointment. We serve the entirety of the greater Chicago area.