Child Support and Shared Custody
When you share custody of your child, it may feel reasonable to assume that neither parent should be required to pay child support. With shared custody, both parents are expected to contribute to the child’s overall well-being by providing food, shelter, clothing, and covering necessary educational costs in a cooperative manner. However, the laws, as they are currently written in the state of Illinois, may still lead judges to require the payment of child support, even in shared custody arrangements.
Child Support in Illinois
Illinois law regarding child support is considered by many to be a bit antiquated as it relates to modern parenting situations. The basic principles of the statute indicate that the court is recommended to require that a supporting parent pay child support as a set percentage of his or her net income. While the law provides some discretion to the court for deviation from the recommendation, most such changes are made based on consideration of income, resources, and needs. This means that factors such as parenting time and parental responsibilities may be frequently ignored as they are not statutorily specified considerations for the court.
In most shared custody situations, one parent is still granted primary physical custody. This allows the child to establish residence for the purposes of education and other necessities. Establishment of a residential parent, however, often leads the court to require the non-residential parent to pay support, regardless of shared parenting time or joint responsibilities. Many see this as a weakness in the state laws rather than a failing of the individual court.
Income Shares vs. Percentage of Income
While there have been examples in Illinois case law where parenting time and shared custody have alleviated the requirement of child support for a particular parent, the law has yet to be modified. Currently, Illinois utilizes a child support system known as a “percentage of obligor income” model, to provide a support baseline for support orders. A growing number of other states, however, have adopted a model known as “income shares” which establishes an amount required for the support of the child to be equitable divided between the parents based on a wider variety of factors. In addition to income and other resources, the income shares system is built to accommodate shared parenting ratios and divided responsibilities when calculating support.
Across the state, including within government agencies, support has been growing behind the effort to modify Illinois law regarding this issue. Legislative action has been considered several times, however, with little progress, but many remain hopeful that change is coming soon.
If you would like to pursue shared custody of your child, or have questions about your child support order, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Our compassionate team will help you understand your options and protect your legal rights. Call today to schedule your initial consultation and put our skilled professionals to work for you.