August is Child Support Awareness Month

Last month, Illinois adopted an “income shares” model for determining child support, joining 39 other states in considering the income of both parents in calculating the money needed to raise their child. “Income shares” for calculating child support is based upon a model developed by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement.


Although the change is not a reason for the court to change existing child support orders, it will impact how child support is awarded going forward.


This year, Illinois also amended its marriage and divorce laws to eliminate the use of the word “custody” in favor of “parenting time” and “parenting responsibility” to better reflect continuing parent-child relationships after divorce and to reduce the perception that one parent has “won the children” and the other merely “visits” them. The new statute also requires parents to file a joint “parenting plan”, further reflecting the shift in how the law treats parents who live apart from their children.


The income shares model also considers how shared parenting time affects child support—the factors determining child support amounts under Illinois’ income shares model are: the basic costs associated with raising the child, each parents’ income, additional expenses (like schools, child care or medical costs) and time spent in each parent’s household. Some practitioners are concerned that tying support calculations to time spent with the parent may conflict with a best interests of the child standard in establishing parenting time and parenting responsibility.


The Illinois Department of Health and Family Services was required under the new law to issue worksheets and formulas based on percentage of the combined net income that parents living in the same household in this State ordinarily spend on their children. HFS maintains an FAQ concerning the changes here.