Category Archives: Child Support

Child Support Variables That You Will DecideDivorcing parents in Illinois do not negotiate child support payments in the same way they may negotiate spousal maintenance. With spousal maintenance, you may need to decide whether payments are necessary and how long they should last. With child support, those issues are predetermined. Child support is mandatory and will last until all of your children have turned 18 or graduated from high school. The formula for calculating child support is also set because the income shares table will tell you the base child support obligation that you share. However, there are still factors regarding child support that you can control.

Establishing Your Income

When calculating child support payments, parents may disagree on their respective incomes. Your income level affects the total child support obligation between the two of you and how much of that obligation you will pay. You need to accurately report your income while making sure that your spouse is not underreporting their income. Your spouse may accuse you of misrepresenting your income. If you cannot agree on each other’s incomes, a divorce court will examine your case and decide for you.

Division of Parenting Time

The child support formula changes if you have what Illinois classifies as a shared parenting arrangement, which is each parent having at least 146 nights with the children. This is a 60-40 division of parenting time. The revised formula increases the overall child support obligation but expects both parents to pay for most of their own child-related expenses. As a result, the child support payments between parents are less than with parents who do not meet the requirements for a shared parenting arrangement.

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Receiving Retroactive Child Support PaymentsBoth legal parents have a financial obligation to support a child from the time it is born, even if one of the parents is not an active part of the child’s life. Child support is a common aspect of divorce but can be more difficult to establish when the parents were never married. A father can submit a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, or the mother may file a petition to establish paternity. In disputed paternity cases, the court can order the father to pay retroactive child support if it legally establishes his paternity. The retroactive payments could go back to the date of the initial court filing or the date of the child’s birth.

Reason for Retroactive Payments

Retroactive child support commonly starts on the date that the parent filed a petition to establish paternity or to establish child support. In most cases, the mother is the one who is attempting to force the father to take financial responsibility for their child, though a father could file a petition to establish child support from an absent mother. Illinois allows retroactive child support orders to prevent a parent from avoiding their financial obligation by prolonging the court case. A paternity case can take months to settle and can be extended with other legal actions, such as appeals.

How Far Back Can Payments Go?

Illinois law allows courts to extend retroactive child support payments to dates before a parent filed a petition. Courts have interpreted this as the authority to start the retroactive payments as earlier as the child’s birth. The law lists several factors that courts must consider when setting the start date for retroactive payments, including:

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Disability Dependent Benefits Can Contribute to Child SupportBecoming permanently disabled does not eliminate your child support obligation after a divorce, but it can change what you pay. People who live off of disability benefits typically have less income than before, which allows them to modify their child support payments. If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, your children may be eligible to receive SSDI dependent benefits as well. In shared parenting situations, these payments would go directly towards child support.

What Are SSDI Dependent Benefits?

The purpose of SSDI dependent benefits is to help a disabled parent support his or her children who rely on the parent’s income. A child can qualify for SSDI dependent benefits if he or she is:

  • Younger than 18 and unmarried;
  • Younger than 19 and enrolled full-time in a secondary school; or
  • Disabled and the disability started before age 22.

Each child is eligible to receive payments that are worth as much as 50 percent of the disabled parent’s SSDI benefits. However, the total value of the disabled parent’s benefits and the children’s benefits cannot exceed 180 percent of the disabled parent’s original benefits. Thus, if you have two dependent children, they cannot both receive payments that are worth 50 percent of your benefits.

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Illinois Can Suspend Your Driver's License for Missed Child SupportThe continued payment of child support is a serious matter in Illinois. Your co-parent can take you to a family court to enforce your child support agreement if you miss payments. A court that finds you in contempt of your child support agreement can use wage garnishment or the seizure of other property or funds in order to repay the money that you owe. As further punishment for your lack of payment, Illinois can suspend your driver’s license until you pay the child support in full.

Suspension Policy

Both Illinois courts and the Department of Child and Family Services have the authority to request your driver’s license suspension if you have not made any child support payments for at least 90 days. In either case, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office receives the request and will notify you of your pending suspension, to start in 60 days. At that point, you have two options:

  • You can repay your child support in full, which will cancel the suspension; or
  • You can attend a Secretary of State’s hearing on your suspension.

The hearing will determine whether to allow your driver’s license to be suspended and whether to give you limited driving privileges. The suspension can last indefinitely until you have fulfilled your child support obligation. To reinstate your driving privileges, you will need another hearing with the Secretary of State’s office to prove that you are in good standing with your child support payments.

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Who Will Control Your Child's College Fund After Divorce?Divorce can disrupt the financial plans from your marriage, including savings you have accumulated for your child’s college expenses. If you have been making regular contributions to a college fund, you may worry about how you will continue to afford them on your individual income while also supporting yourself and your child. You should discuss your college savings plan with your spouse during your divorce negotiations, including who will control any existing savings and how to ensure that the money goes towards your child.

Types of Plans

Savings accounts from your marriage, such as a retirement plan, are considered marital assets because they are funded with marital income. Even if you keep control of the entire account after your divorce, you may need to compensate your spouse for half of the value of the account. A court may exclude your college savings account from your marital property if it classifies the account as a fund set aside for your children. The best way to do this is by creating a plan that is meant for college savings, such as a:

  • 529 savings plan;
  • Custodial 529;
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account; or
  • Trust in your child’s name.

Plan Control

If you created the college savings account before your divorce, you will need to decide which parent will be in charge of the account moving forward. Usually, one parent assumes total control of the account, though you can split the account and each receive half of its value. You can include conditions in your divorce agreement stating that:

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Goostree Law Group

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