The basic change is that Illinois will now use what is called an "income shares" model for setting child support. This is a major change from the percentage model that based child support only on the net income of the parent paying support that essentially ignored the income of the parent receiving support. One of the goals of this change is to address situations where the person receiving support had much higher income that the person paying support. Those situations could mean the person paying support could barely survive on a relatively lower income AND with an obligation to pay percentage support.
Thus the income shares model factors in BOTH parties income and is meant to address the needs of both the household of the person receiving support as well as the household paying support. With the court now factoring in the combined incomes of both parents, the court can calculate the total contribution to be made to the child from both parents based upon that combined income.
To help calculate child support using the income shares model, the State of Illinois has released charts that establish:
A) the combined support amount based upon the number of children and gross income. "Gross to Net Income Conversion Table Using Standardized Tax Amounts"
B) a conversion chart that then calculates the total child support from the combined adjusted net income, "Income Share Schedule Based on Net Income"
Below is a more detailed outline of the steps. Note that with the changes, it will be important for you to use the services of a family law attorney to make sure this is done correctly. In the months following the implementation of the new law even judges and other family law lawyers will be working through the learning curve on this and having an experienced attorney help you will be critical.
1. Calculate Both Parent’s Combined Net Monthly Income
This is done by adding up all income from all sources and then properly calculating federal, state, FICA or self-employment tax, and medicare, Income from all sources includes the receipt of spousal maintenance. Similarly, the payment of any maintenance reduces gross income for the person paying maintenance. A major change from prior laws is that some of the previously deducted items from gross pay are no longer allowable deductions and so eliminated deductions are union dues, mandatory retirement contributions, student loan payments, and life insurance premiums.
From there, one of two formulas is used to calculate net income, by using either:
A) a standardized tax amount formula or
B) an individualized tax amount formula.
The standardized tax amount formula makes blanket assumptions that will not apply to everyone's situation such as assuming everyone's tax filing status is single or that everyone has only one dependency exemption. Thus the standardized approach is fairly narrow and applies in limited situations. The individualized tax amount formula is far more accurate but also requires more detailed calculations as it factors in the parties actual tax filing status, the number of dependency exemptions and other tax matters affecting net income such as itemized deductions, earned income tax credits, etc.
Other Support Obligations. When one of the parents supports other children or households, there may be an adjustment so that the amounts paid to for another family are factored into the calculation.
2. Use the Combined Net Monthly Income to Determine the total Child Support obligation from the published Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligation.
To arrive at the total child support needed, use the combined income calculated in step one above and apply that to the to the number of children the parties have and then find the corresponding amount on the Schedule of Basic Child Support.
3. Calculate Each Parent’s Percentage Share of the total Child Support Obligation
To then figure out how much child support a parent will pay, you divide one parent’s monthly net income by the total combined net income. Thus if the father's net income is $6,500 per month and the total combined net income is $10,000, then he is obligated to pay 65% of the total support obligation to the mother if she has a majority of parenting time.
Note: There is a deviation from this formula if the parents share parenting time equally or the parent without a majority of parenting time has 146 or more overnights per year.
If this is confusing to you, then all the more reason you will need the assistance of an attorney to help ensure you are either paying or receiving the correct support under the new statute. Most family law attorneys also use software designed to assist in making these calculations accurate. If you are having issues trying to figure out child support, our attorneys stand ready to assist you. For a consultation, call (815) 954-8175
Gross to Net Income Conversion Table Using Standardized Tax Amounts
Income Shares Schedule Based on Net income