Can I change the amount of child support that I pay? What do I need to look out for?

You have been paying child support, likely through Illinois' state disbursement unit and with a court order in place as to the amount. But now your income has changed and the amount needs to be adjusted. Maybe your pay has decreased for some reason, or maybe its gone up and you would rather do the right thing than wait for your ex to make a big stink about it and take you to court. First things first. Remember, child support is based off of your net income which can be different than the amount you deposit into the bank each pay cycle. Look at how much your net income has changed and get help determining the amount of support that you should now be paying. Once you know the new amount, you must watch out for the number one mistake that people make at this point! It is a mistake that can haunt them for years to come! Quick story by way of example: John and Mary were divorced in Chicago and John pays child support to Mary for their two kids. John and Mary get along pretty well and he tells her that his company closed and he had to take a job elsewhere for less money. They can do math and they agree upon the new, lesser amount that John has to pay. To simplify matters, they decide that John will just set up a direct deposit of the child support amount to go into Mary's account each month, leaving the state & the courts out of it. Sounds great, right? Not so fast. This is the biggest mistake people make and a very common one! The problem is that while John and Mary are okay with it, the State Disbursement Unit is going to think that John is delinquent & if it catches up with him, it will be a costly nightmare to fix. Or something could happen which makes Mary no longer trustful of John, and she can take him to court and claim that he hasn't been paying her all the support due to her under their divorce decree. Or John's job changes again and this time, Mary doesn't agree with his numbers and hires a lawyer. Its all back in court again and the judge tells John the truth: he is behind on child support. But how can that be? He made less money, he and Mary ran the numbers and had an agreement using the correct calculations under the law! It doesn't matter. When he started to make less money, he had the right to have his child support reduced but he & Mary did not have the authority to do it without formalizing it into a new court order. If its not in a court order, it doesn't count and legally, he was obligated all along to pay the old (higher) amount.

Don't let this happen to you. At O'Connor Cadiz Law, we can sit down with you and review your child support situation. If a chage is in order, let's get it done with all the formalities so that you don't have to look over your shoulder later. Remember, the new amount doesn't take effect when you change jobs but rather when legal steps are taken. It makes a lot more sense to do it as soon as you know about a change in your income than to do it later. I look forward to talking to you.

Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Bankruptcy, Injury, Real Estate & Mediation