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Will New Illinois Child Support Laws Impact Collections?

Will New Illinois Child Support Laws Impact Collections?

By: M. Scott Gordon

When states like Illinois make changes to child support laws and the ways in which child support payments are calculated, can those changes have any impact on collections efforts? For instance, do child support collections needs increase or decrease with certain changes to the law? You might have heard that changes to Illinois’s child support law have been approved, and they will take effect on July 1, 2017. The proposed legislation that led to the change in the law, HB 3982, was signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner in August, 2016. What will the changes to the law look like? In brief, the legislation will alter the way in which child support payments are calculated. Rather than taking a percentage of the supporting parent’s income, beginning July 1 2017, Illinois will apply an “income shares” model.

The “Income Shares” Model of Child Support

The changes to Illinois law through HB 3982 will amend the child support guidelines in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). As an article from YLD News, the newsletter of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, explains, prior to the new law the state of Illinois relied upon a “percentage of income” model for child support. In other words, the court would calculate child support “based on a flat percentage of only the non-residential parent’s income without any consideration of the residential parent’s income.” While using a “percentage of income” model, Illinois was among a minority of states. To be sure, at the time HB 3982 went before the Illinois House and Senate, there were 39 U.S. states that used the “income shares” model. Now that Governor Rauner has signed the bill into law, Illinois will become the 40th state in the country relying on an “income shares” model.

What does the law do specifically? It is important to recognize that the language of HB 3982 makes a number of changes to the IMDMA, some more minor and some more substantial than others. For our purposes, the most notable change to the law concerns the “income shares” model of child support. The law specifies that child support guidelines should, among others, have the following purposes:

  • To make child support awards equitable by “ensuring more consistent treatment of persons in similar circumstances”;
  • To calculate child support awards based on “the parents’ combined adjusted net income estimated to have been allocated to the child if the parents and children were living in the same household”; and
  • To adjust child support payments based upon the needs of the children.

The language of the law also makes clear that the court should apply the guidelines unless it determines that applying the guidelines “would be inappropriate after considering the best interest of the child.”

Impact on Child Support Collections in the Chicago area

When the changes to Illinois’s child support laws take effect, it is possible that parents will not be required to make the same amount of payments as they would have under the old “percentage of income” system. Yet for current families, the changes to the law will not automatically result in a change to current child support payments. If the parent responsible for child support payments is having difficulty coming up with the money each month, it is up to that parent to petition the court.

The law will not have any impact on the ability of a parent to engage in child support collections. To be sure, parents will be responsible for making child support payments as stipulated by the court through a child support order. In the event that a parent does not make child support payments in the Chicago area, the other parent may initiate an action for child support collections.

Discuss Your Case with a Chicago Child Support Collections Lawyer

If you have questions about child support or collections, an experienced Chicago child support collections lawyer can help. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates today.