Going through a breakup or divorce can be a difficult journey, especially for couples that have minor children to consider during that breakup or divorce. If your break-up or divorce is difficult and full of strife, fighting for custody can turn into a nasty battle, leaving both parents and all minor children feeling confused, sad, and angry. Between trying to understand parenting plans, alimony or child support payments, and any other major decisions you might have to make, it's easy to feel like you're drowning in confusing rules and indecipherable paperwork.
Thankfully, there are professionals who can help walk you through each and every process, every step of the way, from filing for custody to sending or receiving your first child support payments. As experienced family law attorneys, the professionals at Tommalieh Law are here to help you in every way they can.
How is Child Support Calculated?
In most common custody situations, child support obligation in Illinois is calculated by the amount of "overnights" in each household, not days or hours of actual parenting time. If the primary parent picks up their children Sunday afternoon and has them until they drop them off at school or daycare on Friday morning, that is 5 nights for the primary parent. The noncustodial parent then had the minor child(ren) from Friday night until they return the child(ren) to the custodial parent Sunday afternoon. This would give them two overnights.
This applies to parents when their ex-partner has full legal custody or physical custody as well. If one parent has sole custody, and the other parent only has visitation, or, in some cases, has no visitation, then the monthly payments for child support are based on one parent having 7 nights with the minor child(ren), and the other parent having 0.
Because the basic child support formula is based on overnights and not actual hours or time, it can sometimes be slightly off, as it doesn't take into account if parents switch days or actual parenting time by hours, etc. It only takes into account the most basic weekly plan, and the custody arrangement ordered by a family judge.
Learn More: How Long Does it Take to get Child Support?
Why do I Still Pay Child Support if We Split Time 50/50?
There are cases in which there is no primary parent, and both parents share physical custody equally, such as week on/week off custody. Each parent gets the minor child(ren) for 26 weeks of the year, and yet sometimes one of those parents may still be required to make child support payments to the other parent.
That is because child support also takes into account how much each parent earns. Because child support is paid to make sure that the child is being financially cared for if one parent makes significantly more than the other, joint custody or 50/50 time does not stop the child support obligation.
For example, if Parent A makes a yearly salary of $45,000, and shares joint custody with Parent B who makes a yearly salary of $120,000 dollars, Parent B will most likely be required to pay child support to make sure that their child(ren)'s quality of life is the same in each household. Parent B may also be required to provide other additional payments, such as paying for health insurance or paying for child care expenses, for the minor child(ren).
What can Lower the Child Support I am Paying/Receiving?
Anything that affects one of the parents financially can change the child support calculations for their child(ren), and raise or lower their child support obligations. If a parent files for divorce from their spouse and is ordered to pay alimony, has another child, gets a raise at their job, or gets fired. Changing your child custody arrangement or any other aspects of child custody can also affect the calculation of child support.
New spouses of co-parents, however, do not affect child support. If either or both parents remarry, the income of their new spouses will not raise child support. Bringing step-children into the mix also will not affect child support payments, even if you are financially responsible for those additional children unless those step-children are legally adopted and therefore are legally your children. If you adopt a step-child this can lower your monthly child support amounts because you are now legally responsible for that minor child.
What if You Can't Afford to Pay Your Child Support?
Hard times happen to everyone and can come on fast. If you have lost a job, your pay has been lowered, or anything else has happened concerning your finances, you will need to file an amendment to your child support obligations. If you get behind on your child support you may:
- Be found in contempt of your child support agreement and be forced to pay additional fines
- Be forced to pay interest on the money that you owe
- Have your tax refunds confiscated to pay the child support you owe
- Lose temporary custody until you catch up
- Be forced to forfeit your parental rights if you haven't paid in over 6 months
- Have your license and/or passport suspended
Our Firm can Help With any Child Support Issues
Because family law can be so complex, even understanding child support basics can be difficult. Every single case is different, and what happened with your brother or your friend in their custody and child support battle probably won't apply to yours. Thankfully, if you can make most of the major decisions in regard to your children, custody, and parenting plans through mediation, you can lower your time in court and stop most, if any, surprises from happening.
If you and your ex-partner aren't able to come to an amicable agreement, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced family law and child custody lawyer in Illinois. Making sure you have a good lawyer in your corner is imperative to making sure that what is best for your child is what happens. Whether you're unmarried parents that have broken up, a divorce has happened, you're trying to change your parenting time schedule, or anything else, contact Tommalieh Law for a confidential consultation. We'll go over your case and evidence with you, and help you create a customized plan that is perfect for your case, for you, and your child.