Child Support: The Court’s Discretion
One of the fundamental questions decided during a divorce revolves around child support. In virtually all cases involving minor children, the parent with whom the children will primarily live - the custodial parent - is entitled to receive monetary assistance from the non-custodial parent to help with the needs of the children. In Illinois the laws established a formula for determining the measure of child support that is appropriate under different circumstances.
The Law in Illinois
Child support in Illinois is considered a duty owed to the child or children directly - not the former spouse. This obligation includes the educational, physical, mental, and emotional needs which are reasonable and necessary for the support of the child. For purposes of child support, all children under the age 18 (or 19 if still in high school) are included. Illinois statute sets forth the minimum amount of child support required based on the number of children under the legal age. Accordingly, the statute correlates the number of children requiring support with a percentage of the supporting party’s net income.
Deviations from General Standards
Importantly, however, the law allows for a deviation from the established guidelines if the Court determines that deviation would be in the best interest of the child or children. In determining whether a deviation from the established guidelines is appropriate, the Court will consider several factors. The financial resources of both the custodial and non-custodial parent are taken into consideration, as well as the standard of living the child could have expected had the marriage not been dissolved.
The law further provides for the establishment of child support if the net income of the supporting party cannot be accurately determined. In that scenario, the Court has authority to order an amount considered reasonable under the circumstances.
As a result of the flexibility within the statute, the Court has wide discretion in fashioning an appropriate amount of child support based on the situation presented by both the parents. This potential for deviation from general standards is one of many reasons why it is important to have experienced legal advocacy when working through child custody matters. Reaching a final child support determination requires more than plugging information into a pre-determined formula. Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from an experienced attorney who can to make specific legal arguments to the court to best advance your interests. As the non-custodial parent, you want to ensure you are not required to pay more support than you can afford. Alternatively, as a custodial parent, you may need to defend against your former spouse’s attempt to lower his or her ultimate obligation.
Seek Out an Experienced Attorney
Illinois child support issues are some of the most hotly contested family law matters. If you are in the midst of divorce, considering a split with a partner, or otherwise engaged in a conflict about child support, seek out legal help immediately. Contact the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., today set up a free initial consultation to discuss your child support concerns and questions. Attorney Richardson works with families in Palatine, Schaumburg and many other nearby communities.