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The well-being of your child is paramount, and dealing with the intricacies of child support in the midst of a divorce or separation can be an emotionally taxing experience. At Swietkowski & Swietkowski, P.C., we understand the challenges you face and are dedicated to ensuring your child’s financial security and stability. Our compassionate Chicago child support lawyers prioritize your child’s best interests while providing the support you need throughout the process.

By partnering with our team, you gain the reassurance that comes with having a formidable advocate on your side, a family law attorney in Chicago fighting for a fair resolution. We offer personalized legal counsel tailored to your unique situation, helping you make informed decisions that protect your child’s future.

Child Support Laws in Illinois

Child support in Chicago is a legally mandated financial obligation that usually the non-custodial parent must pay to the custodial parent (parent with the majority of parenting time) for the care and upbringing of their children. The purpose of child support is to ensure that the children’s financial needs are met, including expenses related to housing, food, clothing, education, and healthcare.

In Illinois, child support is determined using the Income Shares model, which takes into account both parents’ incomes and the amount of time each parent spends with the children. The model aims to maintain a consistent standard of living for the children across both households. Illinois law allows either parent to be responsible for providing health insurance and child support – however, only one parent will be required to make support payments to the other.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) governs child support in the state, and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) oversees the enforcement of child support orders. The support payments in the state can be made on a weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly basis. These payments are intended to contribute to a stable home environment for the child and cover some of the following expenses:

  • Housing costs, such as mortgage or rent payments
  • Utility expenses, including electricity, gas, and water
  • Food, clothing, and transportation expenses for the child

The parents may also be required to pay portions or all of the following expenses in addition to child support: 

  • Cost of daycare, babysitters, or other childcare providers
  • Educational expenses, such as school supplies, sports fees, and extracurricular activities
  • Medical expenses related to the child’s healthcare

The payments are generally required until the child turns 18, or until they graduate from high school, whichever occurs later. However, payments may continue beyond that age in some cases, such as if the child has special needs or is attending college.

How is Child Support Calculated in Chicago?

Child support in Illinois is calculated using the Income Shares model, which was implemented on July 1, 2017. Before this date, child support agreement was determined using a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s net income based on the number of children. The new model, however, takes into account the combined income of both parents and the amount of overnights each parent spends with the children to determine child support payments. Here are a few things to consider in order to figure out a parent’s support obligation:

  • Gross income includes not only wages, but also salaries, bonuses, commissions, tips, and other forms of income
  • There are deductions that can be subtracted from a parent’s income before determining the child support amount, including a prior child support obligation
  • A great place to find the basic child support obligation is using the Illinois Income Shares Schedule.
  • The non-custodial parent’s child support obligation may be adjusted based on the number of overnights the child spends with each parent per year
  • If the non-custodial parent has the child for 146 or more overnights per year, a “shared parenting” calculation is used, which may reduce the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation
  • Additional expenses to the child support obligation generally include childcare, medical, educational and extracurricular expenses. These expenses may be divided between the parents based on their respective percentage shares of the combined monthly net income
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If the non-custodial parent is unemployed or underemployed, the court may impute income to that parent based on their potential earning capacity, job history, education, and other relevant factors. In such cases, the child support amount is calculated based on the imputed income rather than the actual income of the non-custodial parent.

As straightforward as this may sound, calculating child support can be complex, and individual circumstances may impact the final amount. Consulting with Chicago child support attorneys at Swietkowski & Swietkowski, P.C. can help ensure accurate calculations and protect your best interests.

How to Enforce a Chicago Child Support Order

Child support enforcement in the state is overseen by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). There are several ways to enforce child support orders and collect unpaid child support from non-compliant parents:

Income Withholding

Under the Income Withholding for Support Act, employers are required to withhold the child support amount from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck and forward it directly to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). Income withholding can also apply to unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, and other sources of income.

State and Federal Tax Refund Interception

If the parent without primary custody has outstanding child support payments, their state or federal tax refunds can be seized and used to offset the overdue child support balance.

Driver’s License Suspension

Under the Family Financial Responsibility Law, the non-custodial parent’s driver’s license can be suspended if they are more than 90 days delinquent in child support payments.

Professional and Recreational License Suspension

Non-custodial parents who are delinquent in child support agreement payments may also have their professional and recreational licenses suspended under the Non-Support Punishment Act.

Liens on Property

Liens can be placed on the non-custodial parent’s real and personal property, making it difficult for them to sell or transfer the property without first paying the child support owed.

Bank Account Seizure

The DCSS can request a court order to seize funds from the non-custodial parent’s bank accounts to collect past-due child support.

Civil Contempt

If the non-residential parent fails to comply with the child support order, the custodial parent or the DCSS can file a petition for civil contempt in court. The judge may impose fines, order jail time, or impose other sanctions to enforce compliance with the child support order.

Criminal Prosecution

In extreme cases, the non-custodial parent can be criminally prosecuted for non-payment of child support under the 750 ILCS 16/15 or federal law (18 U.S.C. § 228 – Failure to Pay Legal Child Support Obligations).

Is It Possible to Modify a Child Support Order in Chicago?

Yes, it is. Child support modification in Chicago refers to the process of adjusting the amount of child support payments due to a change in circumstances since the original child support order was established. Under Illinois law, either parent can request a modification if there is a substantial change in circumstances that affects the child’s or parents’ financial needs.

Some of the common reasons for modification include:

  • If either parent experiences a significant increase or decrease in their income, such as job loss, promotion, or a new job with a different salary
  • If the child’s needs change significantly, such as increased medical expenses, educational costs, or extracurricular activities
  • If the amount of time each parent spends with the child changes significantly
  • If Illinois child support guidelines change (for example, the state might alter the formula used to calculate child support payments)
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To request such a modification, you will need to file a petition with the court that initially established the child support order. You will need to provide evidence of the substantial change in circumstances that justify the modification. The court will then review the information and determine if a modification is warranted. If the court approves the modification, the new amount will be ordered.

Don’t Go Through Child Support Negotiations Alone in Chicago – We Are Here to Help You

Ensuring your child is well-cared for is a top priority, and child support arrangements play a crucial role in that. At Swietkowski & Swietkowski, P.C., we understand the complexities of child support proceedings and are dedicated to fighting for your best interests.

Our seasoned Chicago child support attorneys have helped countless parents in their time of need, providing personalized guidance and unwavering support throughout the process. We will assess your unique situation and work tirelessly to ensure that your child’s needs are met and your financial interests are protected.

Don’t let the stress of child support arrangements overwhelm you. Let our family law firm be your trusted ally in navigating this challenging process. Call us at (773) 207-8983 or fill out this form to schedule a free consultation and take the first step toward securing a better future for your family.