After parents divorce or separate, both have the legal obligation to provide financial support for their children. The court or the parents will determine child custody and visitation and create a parenting plan. This is also when child support calculations will be made. Child support payments are meant to ensure children receive the same level of support from both parents and that they retain a similar standard of living as when their parents were together. Parents who are divorced or separated may be concerned about paying child support, when payments are necessary, and how they are calculated.

Determining Child Support

In Illinois, child support payments are determined based on the income shares model, which considers the combined net income of both parents. This model determines how parents would have paid for their children’s expenses if they were still living together. The net income of both parents is their gross income minus taxes and other unique adjustments. Gross income does not include public benefits programs or income and benefits from other children.

Net income is used to calculate minimum, or basic support, payments. This amount is then split between parents based on their percentage of net income. A parent that earns more income will have a larger percentage of the support payments.

Payments will also depend on which parent has greater custody of their children. The parent with greater custody will likely require support payments to care for the child’s or children’s needs. If parents have equal custody, or a child spends at least 40% of the nights in a year with each parent, there is a specific calculation.

This is how standard payments are calculated, but every family situation is different. Child support payments have to reflect the unique needs of a family and their children.

Additional Factors to Determine Child Support

Basic support payments are meant to cover:

  • Basic needs such as food, clothes, and housing
  • Typical medical costs
  • Education
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Transportation

However, the judge deciding child support payments can alter the basic payment amount if the minimum amount will not cover the extra needs of children. The interests of the child or children are the biggest priority. The court will take into account:

  • The financial needs of the child
  • The financial responsibilities and resources of both parents
  • The physical and emotional state of the child
  • The educational needs of the child
  • The standard of living the child would have had if their parents stayed together

Extraordinary financial needs of a child, such as medical costs for an injury or disability, are one of the main factors that raise child support payments.

Ending Child Support Payments

Child support obligations may end when a child turns 18 or graduates high school. Payments could continue if a child is older than 18 but still in high school. Child support payments will also end if a child is emancipated. Emancipation refers to a child’s ability to live partially or wholly independently from their parents before the age of 18. A child may be emancipated if they get married, join the military, move out, and/or get a job that supports themself.

Modification of Child Support

Like other family court order modifications, there often must be a significant or material change in circumstances to modify a child support order. Child support payments depend on the needs and financial requirements of the child. Illinois courts will hear a request for modification if one of the following is true:

  • Three years or more have passed since the creation or modification of a child support order
  • Either parent’s income changed significantly
  • The child support order did not correctly cover the child’s healthcare
  • The Department of Child Support Services made a written request for review

The court considers the following to be a significant change of circumstances that allows for a modification hearing:

  • An increase or decrease in the child’s financial requirements
  • A change in either parent’s income or resources
  • The child no longer needs payments and/or is self-supporting
  • The parent’s custody arrangement has changed

Whether or not the court determines these changes to be significant enough to modify payments depends on the family’s unique situation. A modification or child support attorney can help a parent determine if a modification request is necessary.


Q: What Is the Illinois Minimum Child Support?

A: The minimum child support payments in Illinois rely on the income shares model, which takes each parent’s income into account. It also depends on the number of children that need support. In Illinois, the average basic payment for one child is $1,215 per month. However, this will change depending on the number of children, the income of each parent, and additional costs and factors unique to a family’s situation.

Q: What Are the New Child Support Laws in Illinois?

A: As of January 2022, parents who are going through any proceedings to determine child support must have health insurance for their children. This includes divorce proceedings, child custody proceedings, and child support proceedings. This healthcare can be public or private, but parents must obtain or maintain insurance for their children.

Q: How Does Child Support Work in the State of Illinois?

A: Illinois uses the income shares model to determine child support payments, which uses the parent’s combined net income. Net income is determined based on each parent’s gross income minus tax liabilities or similar expenses. The court will then determine how parents would pay for a child’s expenses if they were still together and allocate a portion of the support payments accordingly. This will also be based on the percentage of custody each parent has.

Q: Do You Have to Pay Child Support if You Have 50/50 Custody in Illinois?

A: While child support payments may not be required, they may be ordered even when parents have joint physical and legal custody. Support payments depend on the financial needs of the child, the income of each parent, how much the parent would have spent on the child if they were together, and how much time each parent spends with the child. If each parent has custody of the child for more than 40% of the year, a unique calculation is used to create support payments.

Protecting Your Child’s Needs

If you are in a child support case or need to modify your current support payments, a qualified attorney can advocate for your interests while protecting your child’s needs. Contact Stange Law Firm today.