Coming Attractions

To more accurately reflect the new interpretation of family law that became effective on January 1, the Illinois child support law may soon move away from the percentage-of-income model, and the State Legislature is expected to take up the matter in the spring of 2016.

Only nine states still use the percentage-of-income model. These jurisdictions determine the amount of support by applying a percentage to the obligor's income which is determined by the number of children. In Illinois, the sliding scale begins at 20 percent for one child and ends at 50 percent for six or more children.

One of the major criticisms of this model is that it leads to cookie-cutter results, which is one thing the changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act seeks to avoid. That is why, although many of the changes were substantive, many more were essentially cosmetic. For example, instead of words like “husband” and “wife” or “child custody,” the law uses terms like “spouse” and “allocation of parental responsibilities.”

The New Look?

If and when the Legislature amends the law, what might those changes look like? Most income share states, which use a much more holistic view of custody and support, employ a rather complex formula that takes into account the actual amount of time each parent spends with the children, the children's financial needs, and both parents' ability to meet these needs.

Neighboring Iowa, which is an income shares state, is a good example. Whereas child support calculation in the Land of Lincoln requires little more than a calculator, the process in the Hawkeye State roughly resembles a loan application, and Illinois could well elect to enact a similar procedure.

If there is no consensus for a radical change, the legislature might eliminate the current guidelines, and instead base child support decisions on more subjective factors mentioned in the statute. So, in addition to evidence regarding the obligor's income, the obligee would also be required to present evidence about the family's overall financial circumstances.

Either way, the Legislature clearly intends to make divorce a less sterile and clinical process, and if the child support law is changed, those changes would certainly reflect this new attitude.

For prompt assistance in this area, contact anexperienced Naperville family law attorney. Convenient payment plans are available.


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