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Kane County child support modification attorneyAs this year draws to a close, Illinois residents and people throughout the world are no doubt looking forward to a healthier and happier new year. The coronavirus pandemic changed our way of life in 2020, and we all did our best to adjust to a “new normal.” In a concerted effort to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus, federal, state, and local officials issued orders to limit in-person gatherings and require that face masks be worn indoors. Many non-essential Illinois businesses were closed, and those that were allowed to stay open have reduced their staff and hours of operation. As a result, numerous individuals lost their jobs and filed for unemployment over the past nine months. This economic downturn has led some parents who are divorced or who were never married to worry about how they are going to pay their bills, including meeting their child support obligations.

Illinois Child Support Laws

There are many issues that need to be addressed in a divorce when children are involved, and unmarried parents may also need to consider these matters when they break up. If a couple cannot come to an agreement on certain matters, the court becomes involved. A judge will make decisions based on what is in the best interests of the children. Under Illinois law, child support orders are based on a formula that includes both parents’ net incomes. This is referred to as the Income Shares model, and it is meant to ensure that both parents contribute toward the costs of raising their children. 

Circumstances That Warrant a Child Support Order Modification

Once a child support order is issued in an Illinois divorce or child custody case, the payment amount may be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if a parent’s earning ability or a child’s financial needs have changed, that could be reason to request a modification. 

Geneva family law attorneyA parent has a legal obligation to support his or her children. This is true even in the midst of a divorce. Depending on any the situation, a person may have an obligation to help support his or her (soon-to-be) ex-spouse as well. However, many people confuse the two obligations, when in reality child support and maintenance (also called alimony or spousal support) are very different, not least of all because the right to collect belongs to different parties.

Child Support

Child support is a right that belongs to a child, not their parents, though the actual payments may be received and administered by the child’s parent. It is defined as court-ordered payments usually made by the parent with fewer parental responsibilities or less parenting time to help support his or her children. In Illinois, the obligation to pay support exists, if ordered, until that child turns 18 years old. If the child is still attending high school at that age, however, the support obligation is extended until they either graduate or turn 19, whichever comes first.

Kane County family law attorneyFamily courts do their best to be equitable in making decisions regarding child support, and they look to ensure that the amount ordered as payable is one that both parents can manage. Sometimes, however, payments are not made for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, there are safeguards in place that ensure that back child support or maintenance payments may be collected.

Notices of Withholding Income for Support

If you are not receiving your child support payments, you may contact Illinois’s Division of Child Support Services, or you may involve the family court where your divorce was handled. Either way, it is incumbent upon you to ask for back child support. If you can back up your claim, the court will enter an arrearage against the parent owing support. Usually, when a Uniform Order of Child Support is ordered, a Notice to Withhold Income for Support is sent to the employer of the paying parent, advising them to withhold a certain amount and forward it to the state. If an arrearage occurs, a new Notice must be sent to let the employer know that more must be taken out to cover it.

Kane County child support lawyerWhen a court enters a Uniform Order of Child Support, the obligation to pay support exists until a fixed point in time, usually when a child reaches 18 years of age. However, there are other points at which an obligation may be terminated, either by law, court order, or mutual agreement. It is critical to know what those points may be.

Common Events That End Child Support Obligations

The most common event, as one might imagine, is that the child in question reaches the age of 18, which is considered the age of majority in Illinois and all but a handful of U.S. states. The rationale is simply that no child support may be owed for someone who is no longer a child. However, it is possible that the custodial parent may petition the court to extend the support obligation until the child has either graduated high school or has turned 19 years old. Graduating high school is considered a formative event, and if a child has not yet completed it, their custodial parent may require a few more months or years of support.

Kane County child support lawyersSpecific laws concerning child support can vary by state; however, parents everywhere have a legal obligation to their children to provide child support. When an order for child support is entered by an Illinois court, it is the responsibility of the paying parent to comply with the order at the risk of enforcement activity and possible sanctions by the court.

Generally, child support payments are only required until the child has reached the age of 18 and he or she is no longer attending high school. Otherwise the order will remain in effect until the child turns 19 or graduates. In the case of special needs children, however, the obligation for support may need to extend well into adulthood.

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