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Illinois child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this Illinois child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is Illinois child support determined?

In Illinois, either or both parents could receive a court order to provide child support for the child, without regard to marital misconduct. The courts may also order one parent to make payments for a medical insurance premium for the child. The factors the courts consider are:

  • the financial resources of the child
  • the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not ended
  • the physical and emotional health and educational needs of the child
  • the financial resources, needs and obligations of each parent

There are specific Illinois Child Support Guidelines, designed to be in the best interests of the child, that the courts use to determine the correct amount of child support. These will be followed, unless there is an agreement by the parents as to an amount of child support considered fair and reasonable by the court.

The following percentages of the net income of the paying parent are what the Illinois child support guidelines are based on:

  • 1 child 20%
  • 2 children 25%
  • 3 children 32%
  • 4 children 40%
  • 5 children 45%
  • 6 or more children 50%

If child support obligations are not met, the Illinois driver’s license of the person owing support may be revoked.

If the court deviates from the above guidelines, the court's findings shall state the amount of support that would have been required under the guidelines, if determinable; and the court shall include the reason or reasons for deviation from the guidelines. 

At what point does the obligation to pay child support end?

Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age.

Illinois's custody guidelines:

Yes. Joint or sole custody may be awarded based on the best interests of the child and the following factors:

  • the preference of the child
  • the wishes of the parents
  • the physical and mental health of all involved
  • the relationship the child has with each family member
  • the child’s adjustment to home, school and community settings
  • the willingness of each parent to encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
  • any history of violence by either parents

Marital misconduct that doesn’t directly affect that parent’s relationship with the child will not be considered. While the Illinois courts presume that the maximum involvement and cooperation of each parent is in the best interests of the child, that doesn’t mean that joint custody is always presumed to be the best option.

Illinois's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement. If it is not, then it will be addressed in the child support order. Usually, if a reasonable medical insurance plan is available through one of the parent’s employment, they are required to cover their child on it.

How permanent are the provisions for Illinois child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect significant changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, it is inadvisable to enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Unless the parties have a written agreement stating otherwise, a motion to modify a custody judgment may be made no earlier than two years after the date of the prior judgment.  The court may permit review of the order for modification before the expiration of two years if there is written evidence or reason to believe the child's present environment may endanger his or her physical, mental, moral or emotional health.

The court must find clear and convincing evidence that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or the parent having custody since the custody order, or it must find that there are circumstances that were unknown to the court at the time the prior order was issued. Modification will be based on the best interest of the child.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Yes. Illinois, like most states, has a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. It is withheld much like income tax is withheld from
earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

If a parent’s child support obligation is not met, that person’s Illinois driver’s license may be revoked.

How does joint custody work?

The current trend is to encourage parents to work together for the best interests of their children. While the Illinois courts presume that the maximum involvement and cooperation of each parent with the child is best for the child, that doesn’t mean that the courts presume joint custody is always the preferred option.

Specifically, joint custody is a form of custody of minor children that requires both parents to share the responsibilities of the children, and for both parents to approve all major decisions related to the children. For an award of joint custody, the courts consider:

  • the ability of the parents to cooperate effectively and consistently
  • the residential circumstances of each parent
  • any other relevant factors

Also for joint custody to be awarded, the courts require the parents to prepare a Joint Parenting Agreement which outlines each parent’s rights and responsibilities for the care of the child and major educational, health care and religious training decisions. The residence of the child will be determined by either an agreement between the parents or a court order based on the above factors.

While joint custody is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Usually one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation.

How Illinois determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. However, when parents cannot agree, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the
nation is:

  • every other weekend
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer
  • alternating holidays
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