The Land of Lincoln is one of only tenpercentage-of-income jurisdictions that determine the amount of child support based solely on the amount of the obligor’s income, at least in most cases. The amount due is easy to determine, especially if the obligor is employed in a job that requires a W-9; the major drawback is that this system sometimes leads to unfair results, as it is not uncommon for a lower-income obligor to paychild support to a higher-income obligee.
Duration of Payments
Payments end when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later. The period can be extended in a number of circumstances; for example, a court may order continued support if the child is mentally or physically disabled and incapable of self-support, and the court may divide postsecondary educational expenses, which includes living expenses, according to Section 513.
The child support obligation continues after the obligor’s death. So, many courts order obligor parents to obtain a life insurance policy to guarantee future payments in these situations.
Manner of Payment
For various reasons, manydivorced parents make side agreements in this area. For example, an obligor parent may agree to pay daycare expenses directly and reduce the cash support payment, in order to claim the tax benefit.
Such side agreements are always unenforceable in family court and always a bad idea. In the above example, the custodial parent has no immediate recourse if the obligor suddenly stops paying. And, if the amount of support paid is less than the amount owed, the state considers the obligor to be delinquent, regardless of the circumstances.
If the obligor has a W-9 job, the best payment method is payroll deduction. This method is totally verifiable and is the most “painless’” method as far as the obligor is concerned. If payroll deduction is not an option, for whatever reason, the Secretary of State maintains a web portal that typically supports automatic deductions from a checking account or credit card.
Amount of Payments
Thechild support law sets default guideline amounts according to the number of children. The proportion begins at 20 percent of the obligor’s net income for one child and ends at 50 percent for six or more children. Note that “net income” for child support purposes may be different than the obligor’s take-home pay.
To deviate from the guideline amount, the judge must first determine that the default percentage is inappropriate based on the evidence. The revised amount is based on a number of factors, including:
Needs of the children,
Financial resources of the custodial vs. noncustodial parent,
Mental, emotional, and physical needs of the children, and
Special educational needs.
In both guideline and non-guideline cases, anattorney may obtain add-on support for items like uninsured healthcare expenses, daycare costs, and extracurricular activities.
Modification of Payments
Pursuant to Section 510, the amount can be changed based on a “substantial change in circumstances,” a change in income of at least 20 percent, or a change in health care status (which may be ineligibility for CHIPs or Medicaid).
The change in circumstances must have been wholly unanticipated at the time the prior order was entered, and the court will inquire as to the good faith nature of a job change. In other words, an obligor cannot quite a job or take a lower-paying job primarily to avoid payingchild support.