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Illinois Child Support

UPDATED: March 15, 2012

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Illinois child support law assures the right to receive financial support by laws that have been enacted to allow custodial parents to seek support and to enforce support orders. Government programs throughout the state also exist to help both custodial and non-custodial parents understand their rights and obligations within the child support system.

Getting Child Support in Illinois

Parents may file a petition in family court in order to obtain child support in Illinois. This petition may be filed on its own, as part of an action to determine paternity, as part of a custody agreement, or as part of a divorce agreement.

Parents may also turn to Illinois Child Support Services (DCSS) to obtain support. Illinois Child Support Services is a part of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). DCSS' mission statement is to " Provide services to custodial and non-custodial parents by establishing paternity and establishing, enforcing and modifying child support obligations to strengthen families emotionally and financially." Parents hoping to find a regional office for help with these matters can visit the website Child Support Illinois.

DCSS assists only with child support issues and is not a legal representative or agent of the parents. While they provide a number of important services to parents, those involved in divorce or complex legal situations should seek advice from an experienced Illinois family law attorney.

Calculating Illinois Child Support

In Illinois, there are established guidelines in place that dictate how much support a non-custodial parent must pay. The guidelines, which are found in 750 ILCS 5/505 Sec. 505, are applied in all support cases unless the court decides that it is in the best interests of the child to deviate from the guidelines. This means if parents are attempting to create their own agreement on support as part of a divorce or custody arrangement, they should either follow these guidelines or be able to present a good reason why the guildelines were not followed.

According to the Illinois guidelines, the required amount the non-custodial parent needs to pay is based on a percentage of his net income and on the number of children. Net income is defined as the total of all income from all sources minus deductions for income taxes, FICA, mandatory retirement contributions or union dues, required medical expenses, prior support or maintenance obligations, and other reasonable expenses paid for the benefit of the child. 

A copy of the table determining the appropriate percent is found both in the relevant state statute and on the website of Child Support Illinois. As the table demonstrates, a parent with one child will pay 20 percent of his net income in support. A parent with two, three, four and five children will pay, respectively, 28%, 32%, 40% and 45%. Finally, if a parent has six or more children, he will pay 50 percent of his income in support.

Enforcing Support

When the employer of a non-custodial parent can be located, Illinois law requires that support payments be withheld automatically from the paycheck of the non-custodial parent. This means the money is taken directly out of the parent's paycheck before he receives the check. This helps to ensure support obligations are paid on time. In addition, starting on January 1, 2005, the law permits DCSS to continue collecting support after a child becomes emancipated if there is a past-due balance owed. The same amount of support that was being withheld from the paychecks to pay support to the minor child will be withheld until the balance in arrears (the delinquent balance) is paid in full.

Illinois law also provides a number of other enforcement mechanisms as well. For instance, a delinquent parent may lose his professional license or driver's license, may have his tax return seized, may have a lien placed on his property and may be published on the list of Illinois Deadbeat Parents.

Modifying Support

When an order of support has been issued, the parents must abide by it until it is changed through official action. Requests for modification of a child support order can be made every three years or when there is a significant change in the circumstances of parent or child. To request review, parents may contact the Child Support Customer Service Call Center or submit a request to the appropriate regional office.

Getting Help

Illinois DCSS aims to provide comprehensive protection to children by ensuring they receive support. However, they do not provide services to parents and they do not give legal advice. Any parent involved in a divorce, custody dispute or complex child support case may wish to consult with a family law attorney for more comprehensive advice and assistance.


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