What is Child Support & What Does it Cover?
Child support is financial support paid by one parent to the other parent to support one or more children. This support can be either voluntary or court-ordered. Although divorcing parents will need to discuss child support during divorce proceedings, marriage isn’t a requirement for child support services — the right to child support belongs to children.
What Does Child Support Cover?
One misconception surrounding child support is that it only over covers the basic essentials, i.e. food, shelter, and clothing. In actuality, it covers much more. Additional expenses covered by child support can include:
- Medical care
- Education and college funds
- Childcare, such as daycare, babysitters, and nannies
- Transportation and travel
- Entertainment, such as books, computers, and the Internet
- Extracurricular activities, such as sports, summer camps, and after-school programs
How Much is Child Support?
In 2017, Illinois child support laws were updated to an “income shares” model similar to those in other states. Under the new law:
- Child support obligations are determined by calculating the net income of each parent.
- Those net incomes are combined to create a “Total Family Income.”
- The Total Family Income is compared against estimates of an average intact family with similar income and number of children.
- From these estimates, a basic child support obligation is determined. If a parent is in the physical care of a child for at least 146 nights a year, this obligation may be multiplied by 1.5.
- Each parent’s support obligation is multiplied by the percentage of parenting time allocated to a parent. The parent who owes more child support pays the difference between the two amounts.
- A parent’s obligation to pay the additional child support is prorated in proportion to their percentage share of the Total Family Income.
Can Child Support Be Modified?
Because the child support obligation is tied to both the incomes and parenting time of each parent, changes in these factors can affect child support obligations. Added expenses – such as childcare or sports costs — can also be factored into the amount of child support paid.
Is Child Support Tax Deductible?
Child support in and of itself isn’t tax deductible, because it’s taken from a parent’s taxable income. Because it has already been taxed, child support is not taxable income to the payee. For more information on child support and taxes, consult our comprehensive guide.
What Are the Penalties for Not Paying Child Support?
Payors who are behind on child support payments may face financial penalties, have their tax refunds intercepted, face restrictions on their business licenses, or lose their driver’s licenses or passports.
If a parent refuses to pay child support, the other parent may ask for a hearing before a judge, which could result in a range of additional penalties, including liens on property, withheld wages, and jail time (though the latter is rare; jailing a parent would obviously impact their ability to pay child support).
If a missing child support check is an unusual occurrence between you and the payor, there is a possibility that the check was returned to the Clerk’s Office by the U.S. Postal Service and is now considered unclaimed. Checking to see if you have unclaimed child support is a quick process that can be done online.
Receive Expert Family Legal Advice from Conniff & Keleher, LLC
Whether your current child support order is beyond your financial means, or you’re not receiving on-time, in-full child support payments, Conniff & Keleher, LLC can offer the expert legal advice and guidance you need. We can also assist unmarried parents with collecting child support, as well as establishing paternity or arguing for imputation of income. If you need the services of a Chicago family law lawyer, contact our team of attorneys today.