Is there any flexibility in the amount of child support set in Illinois?

In Illinios, the amount of child support is based upon a concrete formula.  While the formula itself is straightforward enough once you understand what the courts mean by "net income" and "income", many people ask: 

  • Are the child support guidelines just suggestions?
  • Can the parents decide not to use child support guidelines and use a different amount instead?
  • Will the judge make us apply guideline support?
  • Can I pay less than guideline child support if I don't make a lot of money?
  • Can I get more than guideline support for my kids?

Don't be fooled by the word "guidelines". The percentages are more than mere starting points for negotiation. In fact, child support is the one area of divorce law where there really is no negotiating. Once child support becomes an issue, it pretty much is what it is.  If parents agree that less child support will be paid, that usually becomes a problem. As judges will often tell people who try this approach "child support is not to benefit mom (or dad), it is for the child and therefore, the parents can't waive it or reduce it just because they want to".  That being said, however, it is in a judge's discretion to set the amount of support outside of the guidelines when it is believed that there is a very good reason for doing so. Illinois law will allow the courts to consider these factors:

  • financial needs
  • the child's resources
  • the parents resources
  • the lifestyle established during the marriage
  • the physical, mental and emotional state of the child
  • childrens' educational needs

In my experience, judges are very reluctant to do. If you have to think long and hard how your situation might fit into one of the above scenarios, you probably don't have much of a chance for anything other than guideline support. When judges do "deviate", they will make written findings to support the decision to do so.

If you need help with any support related issue, we can help.  Give us a call at 630 250-8813 to schedule either a phone or office consultation.  


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