How Much Child Support Am I Entitled To / Must I Pay?

Whether the parents of minor children were ever legally married or not, the laws on child support obligations in Illinois are found in the body of divorce law and remain rather rigid.  The person with whom the child or children lives is entitled to receive support from the parent who does not live with the kids, based on that person’s net income.  Net income for child support is not necessarily defined as what is left after deductions, since some deductions cannot be counted and will be added back in. Your attorney will need to look at pay stubs and tax documents to determine the amount of net income that should be used. To complicate the issue of “net income” even more are the not uncommon situations where someone’s income varies from paycheck to paycheck as is the case of many self-employed individuals or those who work on a commission basis.

Once the net income of the person who must pay child support is determined, guideline percentages are applied to calculate the amount of child support that must be paid. Most of the time these guidelines will determine the dollar amount, but guidelines are still only that- guidelines. They can be moved up or down depending on unusual circumstances. The percentage of net income that must be paid in child support depends on the number of children. In Illinois, the guidelines are currently as follows:

Illinois Child Support Guidelines

Number of Children Net Income Percentage to be Paid
1 20%
2 28%
3 32%
4 40%
5 45%
6 or more 50%

Child support typically is withheld from the paying person’s paycheck, just like taxes and other deductions.  The money is then sent to the State Disbursement Unit who in turn sends a check out to the other parent.  Some couples prefer not to use the State Disbursement Unit and will agree in writing to handle child support payments privately between themselves.  Discuss with your lawyer what arrangement is best for you.

Child support usually lasts until the child’s 18th birthday, unless he or she is still in high school in which case it will last until graduation.  There are other instances when child support may end sooner (such as if the child gets married before the age of 18) or might be extended for a longer time period (as may be the case for children with disabilities).

If you are wondering how much money you should receive for child support, or what you may have to pay if your children will not be living with you, contact attorney Carol O’Connor Cadiz for a confidential evaluation.  The more you know now, the more prepared you will be later.

You may also be interested in my article listing the Top 3 Mistakes people make when paying child support.