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Wheaton family law attorneyOne of the most important considerations in a divorce or any co-parenting situation is making sure that children are well provided for by both parents. Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent, you bear the responsibility to contribute financially to your children’s food, clothing, shelter, health, and education. However, as your financial situation changes, especially during the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may find it difficult to keep up with the payments in your original child support order. If you have recently been laid off or have experienced an involuntary drop in income, you should consider pursuing a modification to your order.

How Are Child Support Payments Calculated in Illinois?

In Illinois, child support payments are determined by combining both parents’ monthly net incomes and allocating an equitable percentage of the child support obligation to each parent. The calculation also considers the number of children, their needs, and the standard of living they would have experienced in a two-parent household. Typically, the custodial parent fulfills their obligation by spending more time and money caring for the children directly, while the non-custodial parent is expected to make monthly payments to the custodial parent. Because each parent’s income is a significant factor in the calculation, if you have experienced a change in your income, it is important to seek a modification to the order whether you are the custodial or the non-custodial parent.

How to Seek a Modification to a Child Support Order

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) specifies that a child support order can be modified when there is a significant change in the non-custodial parent’s income, but either parent can request a modification at any time if a major change has occurred. After losing your job, you can contact DHFS to request a modification, and you will then be asked to certify your income and expenses, including any unemployment income you are receiving. The Division of Child Support Services will review your case and notify you of any changes to your existing order based on new calculations. If your modification is approved, the decreased payments can be applied retroactively to the date you filed for modification, but until then you should continue making payments according to your previous order to avoid facing penalties.


IL child support lawyersBeing laid off or terminated from a job can have a significant and lasting impact on your finances. It can also restrict your ability to pay court-ordered child support. Thankfully, it may be possible to reduce your obligation amount with a modification to your order for support. Learn more in the following sections, including how a seasoned family law attorney can assist you with the process and improve the outcome of your case. 

Are You Eligible for Modification? 

Once an order for child support has been entered into the court system, it can be difficult to modify it. That it is why it is so critical that parents attempt to ensure that their original order is based on the most accurate, up-to-date information. However, when circumstances change, a paying parent may be eligible for a modification to their order of support. Examples of such circumstances may include:


Illinois child support lawyersIllinois has been using the percentage shares model to calculate child support since 1984, but that changed on July 1, 2017. Now the state uses an income shares model, which places it on par with most other states in the U.S. Another notable change to the law is the inclusion of a shared parenting provision, which may impact a parent’s child support obligation. Learn more about this provision, including how to determine if a modification to your current order may be warranted.

An Overview of the New Income Shares Model

Unlike the old child support model, which calculated child support based on the income of the paying parent and the number of children shared between parents, the new income shares model calculates child support based on the cost of raising a child (based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics). It also examines the income of the parents and then determines what percentage of child-rearing costs each should be responsible for paying. Spousal support is also factored into the formula now, which may impact those receiving both spousal and child support.


child support calculations, DuPage County child support lawyer, income sharing model, child support order, child support modificationThe way in which child support is calculated in Illinois is about to undergo a massive evolution this July 2017. For the first time in Illinois, the state is moving towards an “income sharing” model—a model that is used by various other states.

Under current Illinois law, the method of calculating child support is to use a fixed percentage of a nonresidential parent's net income. For example, if there is one child in a household, the court would calculate 20 percent of his or her parent's net income to determine what he or she is obligated to pay for child support.

How Are the Calculations Different?


DuPage County child support lawyers, child support orderWhen a couple decides to divorce or separate, they have to figure out issues regarding their children. Of course, a child’s primary residency and child support payments are both critical issues. The dissolution of a marriage creates a new family dynamic for the parents and their child. These dynamics will continue to change over time. It is possible that the parent responsible for paying child support may need to request a modification to child support. As family dynamics change, parents should understand how a court will examine a request to modify a child support order.

Determining Child Support

When a divorce is finalized and a support order is appropriate, then a court will follow guidelines provided by Illinois law to determine how much child support a parent should pay. Typically, the non-custodial parent will pay support. The amount of support will be based on his or her net income, the number of children supported, and other factors the court finds relevant. 


DuPage County family law attorney, child support ordersIn Illinois, and in several other states, child support is paid to the custodial parent. Child support is meant to cover the bare essentials, which include the cost of food, clothing and shelter. The amount of child support you are required to pay is based on your net income and the amount of children you have.

If you are a party to a child support order, one of the many questions going through your head may be, "Can this child support order ever be modified?" Depending on the circumstances of your case, it is possible to reduce the amount of child support you are paying

Modifying the Child Support Order


NOTE: As of July 2017, the law governing child support in Illinois has changed. Please see our Child Support page for more information.

child support collectionChild support cases often present unfortunate situations. In some matters where there is a complete failure to make child support payments for an extended period of time, the one who truly suffers is the child involved. According to a recent news article, in St. Clair County, the State’s Attorney is focusing funding and efforts on collecting child support payments.

Increased Funding


child support payment, modification of child support, Illinois family law attorney, divorceMany people who have been through a child custody and support proceeding breathe a sigh of relief when the process is over. It is often a long, stressful, and emotional time for all parties involved. However, there are times when the issue deserves to be revisited, since a child support obligation may need to be changed for one reason or another. Illinois law provides for the modification of child support payments when a specified standard is met under certain circumstances.

Circumstances Change

The main reason that a party asks the court to change an award of child support is because something changed either for the non-custodial parent, the custodial parent, or the child. In order to consider a request for modification of a previously awarded child support payment, the law in the state of Illinois requires that the party seeking the modification demonstrates a significant change in circumstances since the time of the last child support order.

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