Will there be a complete change to the way child support in Illinois is calculated? With the passage of income shares legislation (Pub. Act 99-764), the answer is an emphatic — yes. Prior to the passage of the income shares legislation, Illinois had comprehensive changes to its family laws in virtually all areas other than child support. This is because there was a separate committee that was established to review and update the child support guidelines from the so called “Family Law Study Committee.” This later committee was the one that was responsible for the 2016 comprehensive re-write of Illinois statutory law.
Through to July 1, 2017, Illinois will continue to use a child support system based solely on a guideline percentage and the net income of the non-custodial parent. This results in the same guideline support regardless of the division of parenting time, the respective incomes of the parties, and other factors. With Public Act 99-764, Illinois law moves towards an income-share approach which uses a mathematical formula to consider parenting time and both parties’ incomes. Accordingly, effective July 1, 2017 “income shares” will be the model in use in what will be 40 states. In considering the income of both parents in determining child support, the income shares approach has each parent is responsible for their pro-rated share.
The income shares model will have a significant impact on prospective cases where parenting time is shared. This is due to the definition of “shared parenting” and the calculation of a cross-credit used by the income sharing models. Illinois’ income sharing legislation defines “shared parenting” as a parent having overnight parenting time for at least a certain number of overnights per year. The legislation defines shared parenting time as exercising 146 nights per year. This number represents 40% of the overnights.
Under Illinois income shares model both parents contribute to the expenses of the children in addition to the basic child support obligation. Calculation of child support for each parent then assumes that each parent is the non-residential parent and the other parent is the residential parent. A 50% multiplier is applied to the basic obligation to account for the duplicated child-rearing costs between the parents’ households. Such items would include housing and transportation. Each parent’s share of the basic obligation is cross-multiplied with the percentage of time the other parent has parenting time on an overnight basis with the child.