New Child Support Allocation of Parenting Time

Beginning July 1, 2017, the rules and guidelines for child support will be modified in order to create a more equitable and accurate method for computing child support. Illinois will join the 39 other states, and the District of Columbia, that use the income share model for the calculation of child support. Currently, Illinois follows a percentage based formula calculating child support based on a percentage of the obligor's (non-custodial parent) net income with the percentage increasing for each child of the parties, for example the non-custodial parent was ordered to pay 20% of his/her net income to the custodial parent for one child and 28% of his/her net income for two children. This model has failed to reflect actual child rearing costs and the allocation of those costs between the parents. The new income share guidelines will now make allocation of responsibility for the support of the child/children a shared obligation of both parents.

The income share child support approach guidelines are going to attempt to emulate the actual family child rearing expenses incurred by a family and sharing those expenses. The new guidelines utilize economic data of child rearing costs based in part on the income level of the parents. This new approach will provide financial security for the child by maintaining the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents relationship not ended. The Schedule for child rearing costs will be based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the data will be adjusted for Illinois.

Illinois will continue to use the parties' net income to calculate a parties' respective share of support responsibility. The definition of net income will remain the same as defined in 750 ILCS 5/505(3).

The new statute allows the parties to elect from one of two formulas for computing tax deductions in determining net income. The first formula is the standardized (or simplified) tax amount. This formula is based on both parents having single taxpayer status, using the standard deduction with one personal exemption. The standardized tax amount formula will be based on the custodial parent receiving the dependency exemption for the child/children unless the parties agree otherwise. The standardized tax amount is unlikely to reflect the actual net income of a party who has numerous itemized deductions, and in those cases the second formula, the individualized tax amount, will be utilized to determine net income.

The individualized tax amounts is the aggregate of the following taxes: federal income tax; State income tax; Social Security, or if none, mandatory retirement contributions required by law or as a condition of employment; and Medicare tax calculated at the Federal Insurance Contributions Act rate. A determination of an individualized tax amount may be made by an agreement of the parties, a summary hearing or an evidentiary hearing.

In cases where spousal support is paid by one parent to the other, maintenance is subtracted from the payor's income and is included in the recipient parent's income. The percentage of income shares increases the recipient parent's percentage share and reduces the payor spouse's percentage share. This method proves a more equitable financial result. The spousal maintenance adjustment shall be made from the gross income prior to determining the tax amounts, as maintenance is tax deductible for the payor's income and tax includible in the recipient's income. Spousal support paid to a prior spouse shall be subtracted from the obligor's income, and spousal support received from a previous spouse must be included as income by the recipient.

To calculate child support using the new guidelines for parties who do not have shared parenting time you will start with each party's monthly net income. Next you will add maintenance, subtract maintenance paid and subtract child support payments for other children from the monthly net income to calculate the monthly adjusted net income for each party. You will then calculate the percentage share of income of each parent by dividing their monthly adjusted net income by the combined income of both parents. Once a percentage has been calculated, you will take the combined amount from the adjusted net monthly income of both parents and look to the Schedule which will show what the income shares will be based on net income and the numbers of children the parties have. The number from the schedule will then be divided by the percent share of income to calculate each parent's share of basic support obligation per month.

In cases where the parenting plan reflect both parents having at least 146 (40%) nights of parenting overnights per year the new child support statute has a two-step formula to compute child support. The first step is to multiply the basic support obligation by 1.5. This increase will account for the increase in costs for housing, food and other basic costs required to maintain two household in order to accommodate a shared parenting plan. The second step in the formula is the child support obligation is computed for each parent by multiplying that parent's portion of the shared care support obligation by the percentage of time the child spends with the other parent. The respective child support obligations are then offset, with the parent owing more child support paying the difference between the two amounts.

The new child support statute will not include child care expenses. Child care expenses will be determined separately from child support prorated in proportion to each parent's percentage share of combined parental net income, and will be included in the child support order. The court, in its discretion, may order either or both parents to contribute to reasonable school and extracurricular activity expenses of the child. However, the statute does not require school and extracurricular activity expenses to be allocated in proportion to each parent's percentage share of combined parental net income. In addition to the basic child support obligation, the court may also provide for the child's current and future medical needs by ordering either or both parents to provide health insurance coverage for the child.

The new child support guidelines will reflect a more fair and equitable way to calculate child support as it will account for the income of both parties as opposed to the current statute which only accounts for the payor party's net income. This new calculation has been proven in the 39 and the District of Columbia other states that utilize it to reduce negativity between the parents thus benefiting the child. While there will be a period of adjustment, this new guideline may benefit both parties involved and the minor children.