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Child support in Illinois: Know what you could owe

A child has the legal right to receive child support from both parents in one of two ways. The child can either receive it directly or through payments. That means that the parent who primarily has custody may not need to pay, but the parent who does not have primary custody will need to pay monthly installments.

Child support calculations are unique to each case, but there are basic guidelines. Illinois uses an income shares model. The model includes guidelines based on a table that shows the percent of income typically spent on children when parents live together. When a child stays overnight for at least 146 nights per year, basic child support obligations are multiplied by 1.5 times, and this is also factored into the payment along with the amount of time each parent spends with the child.

The first thing that has to happen to determine how much you or your ex-spouse will pay in child support is for you to calculate your net income. Net income is the amount of income earned minus taxes and applicable adjustments. Gross income is the total income you bring in not including public assistance or benefits, or income received in the form of child support from other individuals.

When a judge orders child support, it is intended to cover the basic financial needs of a child. This includes paying for a house, transportation, medical care, clothing and food, to name a few ways that the support could be used.

When does a parent stop paying child support?

Parents typically stop paying child support once the child reaches 19 years of age if they are still in high school or 18 if they are not. The child is legally emancipated once they join the military, get a job and don’t require support, move out on their own or get married. A judge can, at their discretion, allow for educational expenses to be awarded to a non-minor child. This could mean that you may be held liable for tuition, room and board, transportation fees, and other college expenses for your adult child.

You should always seek to modify your support obligation instead of stopping payments on your own just to be safe and protect your own interests. Your attorney can help you understand if your support order has an end date or if you have to see the end of paying support on your own. Once you’ve supported your child to adulthood, you should not be liable any longer.