Child Support

Child Support in Illinois

Illinois courts have the power to award child support to any parent, for the benefit of their children, usually to the parent who is the primary caregiver for the parties’ children. Child support is generally not available where both parties and the children remain living together during the pendency of the case. It is available in divorce, legal separation, and parentage cases, both during a case and thereafter.

Unlike maintenance (alimony), which is not set according to any specific guidelines, child support in Illinois is set pursuant to a guideline-based upon the net income of the “obligor” (the parent who will be paying child support). The guidelines are as follows:

Number of Children Percent of Supporting Parent’s Net Income

Number of children
Percentage of income
6 or more

Although the child support is set pursuant to a percentage of net income, a specific dollar amount is listed in the court order as the child support obligation. In cases in which an obligor’s net income varies, the court will average that person’s net income, with the result that the child support obligation will be the same amount from paycheck to paycheck based upon the average. This is sometimes difficult for obligors whose income varies widely, but it is the standard method of setting child support in Illinois. While it may seem fair to have a percentage of each paycheck and whatever the obligor made on each check removed, Illinois law requires that a specific dollar amount be ordered by the court.

What is “net income”? Net income is defined in our law as “the total of all income from all sources, minus the following deductions”: (a) federal and state income tax, (b) social security payments, (c) mandatory retirement contributions required by law or as a condition of employment (most employees pay voluntary contributions to retirement), (d) union dues, (e) dependent and individual health insurance, (f) prior obligations of support or maintenance paid pursuant to a court order, and (g) expenditures for repayments of debt that represent reasonable and necessary expenses for the production of income, medical expenditures necessary to preserve life or health, and reasonable expenditures for the benefit of the child and the other parent, exclusive of gifts.

Although our courts have the power to set child support above or below the above-listed guidelines, it is difficult to have a court make these deviations, as Illinois courts generally like to stay within the guidelines. However, you should make sure your attorney takes advantage of all possible deductions (if you are paying support), or (if you are receiving support) that you verify all income from all sources (second jobs, investments, etc.) to make sure you receive the correct amount.

Let our Divorce Attorneys help you

If you’re seeking assistance from another parent, contact our family law attorneys who focus on child support in Chicago or call our Chicago office at 312.360.0250 or our Skokie office at 847.329.0101 today.

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