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, whereby calculating child support based on a percentage of the obligor’s (noncustodial parent) net income, with the percentage increasing for each child of the parties. For example, the noncustodial parent was ordered to pay 20% of his/her net income to the custodial parent for one child and the percent would increase as the number of children the parties had together increased. Under present law, there is a cap on the percent of the supporting parent’s net income, which is 50% and that is for six or more 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 between the parties. 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).

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 use a five-step formula.

  1. Determine each parent’s net monthly income.

  2. Determine the monthly adjusted net income for each parent. This amount will be the parent’s net monthly income plus maintenance received; subtract any maintenance the party pays and subtract child support payments for any other children the party has.

  3. Determine the percentage share of income each party is responsible for. To calculate this, take each parent’s income from step 2 divided by the parents’ combined net income.

  4. Determine the basic combined obligation by using the parents’ combined monthly income, from step 2, and comparing it to the schedule.

  5. Multiply the amount found on the schedule in step 4 by the percent of each parent’s net income from step 3.

Here is an example of how the formula works.

  1. The mother’s net monthly income is $2,500 and the father’s is $7,500.

  2. The father pays the mother $100 of maintenance each month and neither party pays child support for other children. We would add $100 of maintenance to the mother’s net monthly income and find her adjusted net monthly income is $2,600. We would subtract $100 from the father’s net income and find his monthly adjusted net income is $7,400. The parent’s combined monthly adjusted net income is $10,000.

  3. The mother’s percent share of the combined adjusted net income is 26% and the father’s is 74%.

  4. Plug in $10,000 to the schedule. If the parents have one child, the basic child support amount is $1,413

  5. Multiply $1,413 by 26%, which equals $367.38, and this amount is the mother’s share of the basic child support obligation. We do the same calculation for the father, multiply $1,413 by 74%, and find his share is $1,045.62.

The new statute has an additional calculation for child support, referred to as shared parenting. Shared parenting occurs 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 is a two-step process.

  1. Calculate the shared care support obligation by multiplying the basic support obligation, found in step 4 above, by 1.5. This increase will account for the increase in costs for housing, food and other basic costs required to maintain two households in order to accommodate a shared parenting plan.

  2. Calculate each parent’s obligation based on the percentage of parenting time.

Continuing with the example from above, this is how child support is computed for shared parenting cases.

  1. Multiply $1,413, the amount determined in step 4 above, by 1.5 to find the shared care obligation of $2,119.50

  2. The mother’s percentage of parenting time is 40%, and the father’s is 60%. Multiply $2,119.50 by 40%, which equals $211.95, and this amount is the mother’s child support obligation. Do the same calculation for the father’s child support obligation, 60% of $1,589.63, which equals $9583.77.

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 other states, and the District of Columbia, 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.