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Parenting Time Change Can Allow Child Support ModificationYou are allowed to modify the child support order from your divorce at any time as long as you can show that there has been a significant change of circumstances that makes the modification necessary. The change of circumstances is usually a change in the income of one of the parents or a change in the cost of supporting the children. However, a change in the division of parenting time may also be enough reason to modify your child support payment.

Shared Parenting

Illinois has a modified version of its child support formula that it uses when parents have a 60-40 division of parenting time or less, which qualifies as shared parenting. The paying parent does not need to provide as much support to the other parent because they are directly paying for more of the children’s expenses. Thus, it is appropriate to modify child support payments if the division of parenting time reaches the shared parenting threshold.

No Time Limit to Modify

A recent Illinois case shows that courts can misapply child support laws in ways that need to be corrected. In the case of In re Marriage of Izzo, a man sought to reduce his child support payments to his former wife based on three changes of circumstance:

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Which Circumstances Allow You to Modify Child Support Payments?Due to the overhaul of Illinois’ child support law a few years ago, some divorced or separated parents are working under a drastically different child support system than others:

  • For child support agreements created before July 1, 2017, the non-resident parent pays a percentage of his or her income, based on the number of children; and
  • For child support agreements created since July 1, 2017, the total child support obligation is determined by the parents’ combined incomes, and the non-resident parent pays a percentage of the obligation that is proportionate to his or her share of the combined incomes.

The new child support model would potentially reduce the payments of a parent who was using the previous child support model. However, the existence of the new law is not enough reason to allow a modification of a child support agreement. 

Recent Case

A parent needs to prove a significant change of circumstances to immediately modify a child support agreement, which is usually a change in income or expenses for either parent. In the recent case of In re Marriage of Salvatore, a divorced father thought he had enough of a change of circumstances to allow him to reduce his child support payments. The parents had completed their divorce in 2015, with the father paying $8,100 per month for child support. The mother was unemployed at the time of divorce but had since been employed as an office worker and nurse.

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Court Orders Retired Father to Pay Same Level of Child SupportLosing your job and being forced into retirement normally qualifies as a change of circumstances that will allow you to reduce your child support payments. The recent decision for In re Marriage of Verhines shows that a court will consider more than income to determine a parent’s child support obligation in high-income cases. The Illinois appellate court said that there were unique circumstances in this case as opposed to a normal request for child support relief.

Case Background

A 65-year-old divorced father of a teenage son initially requested a reduction of his child support payments in December 2015 after his forced termination from his previous position as an executive at a packaging company. The father was paying $3,043 per month based on his previous income but effectively entered retirement because he was unable to secure another full-time executive position at his age. A trial court reduced his child support payments to $1,700 per month, claiming that the father’s income was $78,000 per year and that he could not be expected to withdraw from his retirement benefits to maintain the same level of child support payments. He had previously taken $400,000 out of his retirement account to pay for personal expenses.

Decision Reversal

An Illinois appellate court recently overturned the trial court’s ruling and reinstated the original child support amount. The appellate court said that the trial court’s decision ignored key factors and used faulty logic:

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Illinois Court Denies Appeal on Child Support ModificationAfter a court has established child support, parents are entitled to a review and possible modification of the payments. Illinois allows child support modifications in three situations:

  • When three years have passed since the child support was enacted or last modified;
  • When there is a significant change in the needs of a child; or
  • When there is a significant change in the income of one of the parents.

A recent Illinois appellate court case involved a father requesting to lower his child support payments. The court found that the father had proven a viable reduction in his income and rejected the mother’s argument that the support payments should remain the same.

Case Details

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Modifying Child Support Payments with New Illinois LawChild support payments are generally recognized by divorcing spouses as a necessary part of their shared parental responsibilities. Parties in a divorce are more likely to argue about the value of child support payments one spouse receives. Courts will consider the needs of the children and the financial status of each parent to determine an appropriate amount. However, needs and finances can change, and it sometimes is appropriate for parents to modify the child support arrangement.

Determining Payments

Starting July 1, Illinois will use a new measure called income shares to determine what percentage of the children’s basic support amount each parent is responsible for. Each parent’s net income is calculated, which is the gross income subtracted by necessary living expenses and taxes. The two net incomes are combined, and the parent with the greater share of the income will proportionately pay his or her share of expenses associated with the children. Courts will also take into account whether there is a shared parenting arrangement, in which children spend at least 146 nights a year with each parent. In this situation, each parent’s child support obligation is multiplied by the percentage of time he or she is responsible for the child. If the parent with lower income has a larger share of the parental responsibility, the parent with the higher income will pay the difference between the two amounts.

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