When it comes to divorce, people tend to have a lot of questions—and rightfully so, as it is an extremely important decision that should not be taken lightly. While the emotional aspects of divorce can be difficult to handle, it is important not to lose track of the financial components often involved as well.
One important consideration for couples with children is child support. Child support is a key component of meeting a child’s needs and can also have a significant impact on a family’s finances, both for the parent receiving payments and the parent obligated to make such payments.
Understanding the basics of how child support might affect you during and after your divorce is an important first step in preparing for the challenges inherent in a divorce. If you are in Will County, one of our experienced child support attorneys could help you understand the importance of child support and your rights in the divorce process.
One of the first steps towards understanding just how child support payments may affect you financially is estimating your potential support payment obligations. Recent changes to Illinois laws make child support obligations dependent on the combined net income of both parents. This is known as an income sharing approach.
In accordance with the income sharing approach. courts will look at the combined net income—or income after taxes—of both parents in determining support. 750 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/505(3)(b) defines net income and lists several potential deductions besides tax obligations, including other mandated child support payments that an individual may be making.
Once net income is determined, the Illinois child support schedule assumes that 20 percent of that income would have been spent on a child if both parents remained together. An individual spouse’s financial responsibility for child support is based on the percentage of the combined net income they provide.
For instance, if the combined net income for you and your partner is $100,000, then your child support obligation would be $20,000. If each parent is responsible for the same percentage of net income, then you would both be equally responsible for that $20,000. This means whichever partner is required to make child support payments may need to make payments that total $10,000 annually.
Understandably, courts take child support issues very seriously. Unexpected circumstances such as the involuntary loss of a job may be grounds for a spouse or ex-spouse to seek a modification of their child support obligation. However, voluntarily lowering income by quitting a job may not lower monthly obligations, as it is sometimes possible to impute earning potential into the net income formula.
Likewise, hiding assets used to determine personal net income can result in severe consequences such as wage garnishment or even seizure of assets. There are also tools and services available to assist in collecting delinquent child support payments, which can begin years after a parent takes on a support obligation.
There are many important considerations to keep in mind when it comes to child support. While the state follows a specific formula in many cases, there are certainly exceptions and special circumstances to consider as well. Our firm is experienced in child support matters across Will County, and we can help you understand what factors determine child support payments as well as what those payments might mean for you.
If you have questions about child support and other financial considerations related to your divorce, call our firm today to see how we could help you navigate the divorce process more confidently and productively.