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Recent Changes to Child Support Calculations in Illinois

Last year, Illinois changed the way that it calculates child support by moving to what is called an “Income Shares Model.” This brings Illinois in line with much of the rest of U.S., where 40+ states have adopted this model. The previous method calculated support on a schedule of minimum support payments based on income ranges. The Income Shares Model calculator creates a support payment schedule based on a formula that takes into account both parents’ incomes, which parent has the children more, the cost of living, and number of children in the family. This means that if your child support agreement was entered into before July 1, 2017 it is governed by the old system; any modifications that take place now will occur according to the Income Shares Model, and could significantly alter the amount of support payments you will pay or receive. The Illinois Department of Health and Family Services website contains extensive information on the way in which the calculator works. Note, it is possible that the court would deviate from these guidelines in cases where it is deemed “in the best interests of the child.”

Some people may wonder if the passage of new laws concerning support payment calculations automatically mean there will be a change in your own agreement. This is not the case, and new regulations will only affect your agreement if you seek to modify your existing agreement. In order to seek modification, you must show a “significant change in circumstances.”

Further changes are in effect for any agreement that is entered into on or after January 1, 2019 in terms of tax implications for both spousal and child support. Whereas these spousal support payments used to be considered taxable income for the recipient and a deduction from taxable income for the payor, this is no longer the case. Spousal support payments are now treated the same as child support payments and are neither taxed nor considered deductions.