Although the legal community is still working to adjust to the new dissolution of marriage act which became effective January 1, 2016, there are already big changes coming in 2017 regarding family law.
On July 1, 2017, the State of Illinois will dramatically change the way that child support is calculated.
The most significant change is the move away from fixed percentages under the old law, to a system called the “income shared approach.”
Under the current law, child support guidelines suggest a set amount of child support based upon an individual’s net income depending on the number of children they have. For example, child support with one child results in an award of 20% of the parent’s net income. For two children, the award is 28%, for three children it is 32% and so on.
Under the new law, child support awards will be calculated by combining the adjusted net income of both parents and allocating support based upon the percentage of net income of the parent who has the least amount of time with the child.
The first step will be determining to whom the support is owed, based upon who has the majority of the time with the child.
Next, the attorney must combine the net incomes of the two families in order to approximate what support the child would have had in an intact family. Last, the court will award an amount of support to the parent who has the majority of the time with the child based upon the other parent’s percentage of the combined net income. It is also important that the new law allows greater deviation from the guidelines based upon unique circumstances that the Court should consider.
Here is a basic example: Husband and Wife have a child, Bobby. Husband earns $50,000.00, and wife earns $100,000.00. The wife has the majority of the time with Bobby, and so she will be awarded support. The incomes of Husband and Wife combined are $150,000.00. However, because Husband accounts for only 1/3 of total net income, he will be required to pay 1/3 of the child support that Wife would otherwise receive for Bobby.
The total amount of child support awarded will be based upon guidelines put forth by the Illinois Department of Human Services, but these guidelines are not yet published.
Once the guidelines are set forth, the Court will determine what amount of support an intact family earning $150,00.00 in combined income would require to support their child, and award Wife 1/3 of that amount. There are other factors that will modify this general approach including the amount of time Husband has with Bobby and the number of children Husband and Wife have.
The major benefit of this plan is that each parent is accountable for their share of support for their child. Unfortunately, as attorneys and courts adjust to the new framework, there will likely be delays because the formula is much less straightforward. It is also important to understand that once the law goes into effect on July 1, 2017, currently existing child support awards will not automatically change. Instead, whenever child support is recalculated because of a significant change in circumstances, the new formula of child support will be used. This could result in a significant change in child support.
It will be especially important for clients to contact an attorney if they believe their child support award will be modified after July 1, 2017, so that they can understand what impact this new law will have. For more information, check out this video.
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