Even when parents live separately, both legal and biological parents have the parental right and responsibility to financially provide for their child. A support determination may be part of a divorce case, a legal separation, the separation of unmarried parents, or a paternity case. Under state law, the family court uses a specific calculation to determine the appropriate child support. However, this amount can be altered to fit a family’s unique situation. A Chicago child support attorney can help you navigate these proceedings.

If you are facing a child support case, it can be helpful to understand how the state decides support payments. Parents can agree on a support amount, but the court will only approve it if it is in the child’s interests and appropriate to a family’s situation.

Income Shares Child Support

Most states use the income shares model to determine child support. This model uses the following to determine child support payments:

  1. The net income of each parent and their combined net income
  2. The basic support payments listed in the income shares chart
  3. How many children require support
  4. The amount of parenting time that each parent has with children

Combined net income is determined by reviewing each parent’s gross income minus taxes and then combining this amount. Each parent’s percentage of this total is necessary to determine their percentage of the basic child support amount.

Under the income shares model, the court determines how parents would have paid for childcare expenses if they were still together. This ensures that each parent is responsible for an amount that is proportional to their income. Typically, the parent with less parenting time must pay an amount of their support to the other parent, depending on the income levels of each parent and what expenses each parent is responsible for when they spend time with children.

This is only how basic support payments are calculated. The unique needs of a child and the family’s specific situation can impact this amount. The court is flexible to the family’s needs, and an attorney can help families advocate for those needs.

What Is Child Support Meant to Cover?

Basic support is calculated to cover the essential requirements of raising a child and accommodating their needs. These payments address needs such as:

  • Safe shelter, including the rent, mortgage, and utilities cost of shelter
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Ordinary school supplies
  • Typical uncovered medical care
  • Schooling
  • Ordinary extracurriculars
  • Entertainment
  • Transportation

The interests of the child are the priority when deciding child support payments. The family court has the discretion to alter support payments based on any extraordinary costs of raising a child or the ability of each parent to provide support. If the basic amount is considered inappropriate, the court will amend it. The court will consider the following:

  1. The child’s financial needs and resources
  2. The parents’ financial needs, obligations, and resources
  3. The standard of living that the child would have enjoyed if the parents remained living together
  4. The child’s educational needs
  5. The child’s physical and emotional state

Child support payments are meant to provide for a child’s needs; they do not exist for a parent to spend on their own personal vacations or products. Support payments should be for a child’s benefit, and any excess support should be saved for the child’s future benefit. Parents can determine how child support payments can be used to provide for their child and even negotiate each parent’s financial responsibility in their parenting plan.

When Can Child Support Be Modified?

The family court understands that a family’s life can change and that these changes can make support payments no longer appropriate. The court will review a parent’s request to modify the order if one of the following is true:

  1. It has been three years since the order was created or last modified.
  2. The initial order was not properly calculated, such as failing to include healthcare costs.
  3. The Department of Child Support Services submitted a request for a review.
  4. There has been a substantial change in circumstances, such as a change in parental income or the emancipation of a child.


Q: What Is the New Child Support Law in Illinois?

A: Since 2017, Illinois has altered its child support system to be based on the income shares model; it no longer uses the percentage of obligator net income guidelines. Other recent changes to child support laws in the state include:

  • Since 2022, parents who are involved in any child support cases must have healthcare coverage for their children, regardless of whether the support is being determined in a divorce, separation, or paternity case. This coverage can be public or private healthcare.
  • For 2023, the standardized table for net income and determining child support payments was again updated to meet the 2023 tax rates.

Q: How Is Child Support Determined in Illinois?

A: Child support determinations in Illinois are based on the income shares model. The combined net income of parents is determined and split based on the child’s expenses, considering the number of children who need support. The amount of parenting time that each parent has will also affect how support is calculated. Net income for each parent is calculated based on their gross income minus taxes and other specific deductions.

Q: Do You Have to Pay Child Support If You Have 50-50 Custody in Illinois?

A: It will depend on your unique situation if you or your co-parent are required to pay child support with 50-50 custody in Illinois. There are some cases where parents do not have to pay support. However, this is rare.

Often, one parent makes more than the other parent and, therefore, must make support payments. There are also some costs that can’t be split between parents, so support makes up for any costs that are handled by one parent. Even when parents have joint physical custody, a perfect 50-50 split is often impractical, so support payments would have to be made for the uneven split of parenting time.

Q: What Is the Cut-Off for Child Support in Illinois?

A: Child support ends in Illinois in one of the following situations:

  1. The child turns 18 or graduates from high school. A child who turns 18 while in high school will still receive support, but it is rare for support payments to be ordered after they turn 19.
  2. The child is emancipated. This includes getting married, joining the military, moving out, or obtaining a job that is self-supporting.

Finding the Ideal Outcome for Your Family in Chicago

When you need qualified legal help during a support case, contact Stange Law Firm.