Modifying Your Child Support: When and How

Modifying Your Child Support: When and How

By: M. Scott Gordon

Paying child support is a part of getting divorced that eventually becomes constant, almost an afterthought. However, when a significant change occurs in your life or in the life of your children, it may become necessary to modify the amount or the payment schedule. You may not simply start paying less or more, or paying at different times, however – changes must be approved by the court, and there is a procedure to follow for doing so.

Illinois’ Child Support Formula

In recent years, the state of Illinois has modified the formula they use to calculate what constitutes appropriate child support. As it stands, the non-custodial parent must pay, if ordered, a certain percentage of their income to the custodial parent, as is fairly standard. However, most states have abandoned this formula in favor of what is referred to as an “income shares” model – where, essentially, the non-custodial parent takes on a greater role in the child’s life, along with that share of expenses, while the custodial parent handles the rest.

Calls to change to an income shares model have gained traction, especially from non-custodial parents, who say that many times the percentage model simply does not work for their family situation. One parent may have a significantly higher or lower income than the other. Expenses may change or be an undue burden on a parent with other obligations. Child support laws have changed in 2015 with the modification of the laws surrounding spousal maintenance; it is now calculated after any maintenance questions are settled, rather than before. Still, for many, it is not enough.

Making Modifications

A major reason for a lack of change in the law is that Illinois lawmakers argue that modification of existing orders would be much less complex and time-consuming. Whether they are correct or not, it is still possible to make modifications to your child support order by following correct procedure.

In Illinois, a child support order may be modified after review, which may be asked for when there is a substantial change in circumstances. “Substantial change” can mean a number of things, such as a parent losing or gaining a job, passage of more than 2 years since the last Order, an older child emancipating, or the parent or child becoming disabled. You are required to provide evidence of this change in income or circumstances to show the court that the old amount is no longer workable; mere proof of the life change you experienced is not necessarily enough. In other words, the mere fact that you, for example, became disabled is not proof enough that you will not have enough money to pay child support.

Contact A Skilled Attorney To Help
A good lawyer can help set your mind at ease and assist in preparing your paperwork and advocating for you in court so it gives the best possible chance for your modification to be granted. The knowledgeable Chicago child support attorneys at Gordon & Perlut, LLC understand your concerns, having handled these matters for many years. Contact us today to discuss your options.