If you have children then you know that raising children is expensive. Parents can expect to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their children’s needs before they are old enough to leave home. For parents who are divorced or who were never married, it can be difficult to handle the financial burden of caring for children on their own. That is why the law in Illinois requires both parents to contribute to the cost of raising children even if the parents are no longer together.

Our dedicated Cook County lawyers can help you reach a child support agreement that works for your family. The well-versed divorce attorneys at Reidy Law Office LLC can help evaluate your circumstances to determine what may be appropriate and then advocate for a solution that reflects those needs.

How Child Support Works

Parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support to their children until they are 18 years old or graduate from high school, whichever happens last. Even if you and the other parent agree on a child support “schedule” (meaning the amount and frequency) amount, this schedule must still follow the law and meet the approval of the judge.

While child support money technically belongs to the children, the parent receiving child support does not have to give it to the child directly. Child support is meant to care for the children, which means that parents can spend support payments on costs the children will benefit from such as rent, groceries, or general household bills.

How Are Agreements in Cook County Calculated?

Since 2017, the state of Illinois has used the Income Shares Model to calculate child support. This model considers both parents’ incomes when determining how much support each child should receive.

Using this model, the state created a chart that provides the basic amount of support that your children deserve based on each parent’s income. These amounts are combined, and the total represents the standard of living the children would have enjoyed if the parents were still together.

Once this number is determined, each parent will owe their proportionate share based on income and the number of overnight visits the children have with each parent. The law assumes that the parent with the most overnights with the children will be paying for their fair share of support by taking care of the children’s needs while they are caring for them. The parent without primary custody will be required to pay their share of support to the other parent.

When Parents Share Custody Equally

The situation is slightly different when parents share custody equally. If both parents have at least 146 overnight visits with their children per year, then they are considered to be in a shared parenting situation.

In a shared parenting situation, the standard amount needed to care for a child is increased by 50 percent. This accounts for the fact that sharing custody equally is generally more expensive for both parents since both parents care for the children for almost the same amount of time. However, since both parents spend nearly half the year with their children, the amount of parenting time significantly decreases the amount of child support that one parent owes the other.

Adjusting Calculations

Child support calculations can also be adjusted up or down for several reasons. For instance, a child might have severe medical problems or a disability that requires both parents to spend more money on that child’s support. In some cases, especially when both parents have adequate financial means, the courts may also order a parent to pay for additional expenses such as private school tuition, daycare, or other costs.

Learn More About Child Support in Moken from Our Attorneys

Child support is invaluable for many parents. If you have children in Cook County, make sure that you receive all of the child support you need by speaking with a knowledgeable lawyer. Calculating child support can be complicated. Ensure that your children receive the financial support they need by scheduling a consultation today.