Illinois is a shared income state, which means that child support is determined by looking at the income of both parents. The court uses a formula to calculate support based on their incomes and the number of overnights that the child will spend with each parent. Parents, subject to court approval, have the option to develop their own child support agreement instead of using the standard formula and instead of having the court decide how funds will be allocated.
Factors to Consider in a Child Support Agreement
Through Mediation or Collaborative Divorce, parents can work together to come up with a plan for child support. If the court deems that the plan is consistent with statutory guidance and in the best interests of the children, it can approve the support arrangement.
Mandatory requirements. There are mandatory requirements that courts require in the child support agreement between the parents. These requirements include:
- Health care
Additional support issues. There are other support issues that must be resolved, and the parents are encouraged to include those expenses (in addition to basic child support) in their support agreement instead of waiting for those issues to arise. These may include:
- Health insurance premiums.
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses.
- Extracurricular school activities.
- Music lessons, dance lessons, acting lessons, etc.
- Childcare costs that are due to a parent working.
- Educational expenses that may be outside of the statutory formula.
- Other expenses related to a particular child.
The statutory formula has changed over the years, and unfortunately the formula is not necessarily “one size fits all,” which the state legislature is constantly working to correct. Meanwhile, it is generally helpful for parents to work with a neutral financial professional when putting together their child support agreement. The ultimate plan will be a child support arrangement that maximizes resources for all and makes sense for the family.
Modification of Child Support Orders
Children’s needs change over time. There may be a mechanism in place in the original child support agreement that provides the parents with the direction they need when dealing with changes, but the court allows parents to return to court for help if the parents cannot resolve how to handle the changes. Parents are generally more satisfied when they reach resolutions on how to deal with changes together as opposed to what can be costly court processes.
Parents can also return to Mediation or the Collaborative Divorce team for assistance in changing the support order. There may be a need to modify the child support payment if one parent has a change in employment, whether the parent has been laid off or received a substantial increase in pay.
Contact Bruckner Hernandez Legal Solutions
At Bruckner Hernandez Legal Solutions, LLC, we can assist you in preparing your child support agreement. For more information, contact us to schedule a consultation.