When Can Child Support be Modified in Illinois?

Updated on February 14, 2022
Updated: June 19, 2022

In Illinois, temporary child support that is entered while the proceeding is pending can be altered at any time before the final judgment is entered. Child support that is established through a final judgment can be modified at any point between the establishment of the order and the end of the obligor's child support obligation. 

While the child support payment may be changed at any time, a substantial change in circumstances must be proven for a modification to be granted. This article will serve to answer a number of common questions about child support modifications in Illinois.

It may be in your best interest to retain the services of an experienced family law attorney if you are looking to change your financial obligation for your child support.

Contact an attorney at Tommalieh Law for legal counsel for your modification request, help to prove a change in circumstances sufficient to warrant a modification to your current support obligation, or any other child custody matters.

Modify Child Support in Illinois

Child support obligations can only be modified by filing a petition for an increase or decrease in child support with the court that has jurisdiction over your case. The petition needs to establish the basis for the modification request in addition to a "prayer for relief" that explains the change in child support obligation you are seeking.

Illinois child support obligations can only be modified by filing a petition for an increase or decrease in child support with the court that has jurisdiction over your case. The petition should state the basis for the request for modification as well as a "prayer for relief" explaining the change in child support obligation that you are requesting from the court.

You are not required to serve a petition to modify child custody in Illinois. You are allowed to serve the notice of the petition through the mail to the other party's last known address. If your petition requests other action by the court outside of the modification of child support, such as a modification of child custody, a change in visitation plans, or other shift in parenting responsibilities, you are required to use certified mail 30 days before the hearing date. 

Can a Modification of Child Support be Applied Retroactively?

Yes, to a limited degree. If your petition for a child support modification is accepted, your support requirement can be retroactively modified to the date the petition was filed, but no earlier.

Review Process for a Modification Request

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) will conduct reviews of child support order modifications to verify that any child support awards follow Illinois law and child support guidelines. 

A child support modification will apply a change to an existing judicial or administrative child support order. This modification will only apply to the provision of the order pertaining to child support or the child's health care. Judicial orders may be modified through the court, while administrative orders may be modified through DCSS. 

DCSS is required to notify every parent subject to a child support order of their right to request a review of their order, as well as the correct place and manner in which to submit the request, once every 3 years. 

Orders must meet one of the following criteria in order to qualify for the review process: 

  • At least 3 years have passed since the order was established or the last modification review took place
  • A substantial change in the non-custodial parent's income has occurred
  • The order fails to address healthcare coverage for the minor child
  • A written request for a review is received by DCSS from either the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent or another state
When Can You Modify Child Support in Illinois?

Once DCSS has received a request for a modification review, both parents will get a notice stating whether or not the order qualifies for a modification review. This will typically take place within 30 days of DCSS receiving the request, but the time frame may shift based on the workload of the DCSS office. 

If your child support order qualifies for a modification review, you and the other parent will be required to submit your respective income information to DCSS. This information will be used for a calculation of child support payments for the modified order. You will then be mailed the results of the modification review, which will alert you to whether your child support payment may increase, decrease, or remain unchanged.

If you wish to contest the results of the modification review, you can:

  • Request another review with DCSS if the order will be unchanged
  • Contest the amount ordered in court (for a judicial order), or request an administrative hearing (for an administrative order)

You are required to submit your request with DCSS within 30 days of the modification review decision notice.

Who Can Request a Modification Review?

  • The non-custodial parent
  • The custodial parent or caretaker
  • Illinois Healthcare and Family Services or another state's child support agency

If you are receiving child support services from DCSS, you can request a modification review by calling their customer service line. You may also request your modification review in writing. 

Military Activation or Mobilization

If you are a member of the Illinois National Guard or military reservist, you may request a modification review if you are mobilized or activated to long-term continuous active duty (longer than 30 continuous days). To request a modification of your child support order, contact the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

Important Notes

  • Existing orders will remain in effect until a modification is made by a court or administrative agency
  • Child support orders can be modified based on the income of the non-custodial parent
  • DCSS staff cannot provide legal advice to you

Related: How to Appeal a Custody Ordert

Hire a Family Law Attorney

Child support can be a major point of contention in many divorces. It is important that you remember that the initial order can be modified based on significant changes in circumstance. If you are seeking an adjustment to child support payments, contact an experienced family law attorney at Tommalieh Law. Our legal team has the knowledge and skills needed to guide you through the process and get you the best result possible for your unique situation. Call us today or schedule an appointment online for an initial consultation for your case. 

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