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Clearing Up the Confusion About Child Support and Parenting Time in Illinois

 Posted on December 31, 2022 in Divorce

palatine divorce lawyerParents who are unmarried or plan to divorce often have questions about child support, visitation, and the relationship between these two issues. For example, does a parent have to pay child support if he or she does not have visitation rights? Can a parent withhold a child from his or her other parent to enforce unpaid child support? Does the amount of time a parent spends with his or her child affect his or her support obligation?

To make the matter even more confusing, Illinois law changed the language used to describe child custody matters in 2016. What was once referred to as visitation is now called parenting time. Legal custody is called the allocation of parental responsibilities.

Navigating child-related legal issues can be complicated. This blog will provide some basic information regarding the relationship between parenting time and child support. However, readers are encouraged to meet with an experienced family law attorney to receive personalized guidance.

How Does Parenting Time Affect Child Support Payments?

Illinois uses the Income Shares model for child support calculation. The parents’ net incomes are factored into a formula that generates a monthly child support obligation. The parent with more parenting time (previously called the primary custodian) will receive child support from the parent with less parenting time. The amount the obligor pays is determined by the parents’ respective incomes, not the amount of parenting time he or she has. 

The only situation in which parenting time affects the child support payment amount is in a “shared parenting” situation. If each parent has the child at least 40 percent of the time, or 146 nights a year, the child support obligation is adjusted to account for this. However, the parents’ net incomes are still the primary determining factor.

Child Support and Visitation Rights are Separate Issues

A parent may be obligated to pay child support but does not have any visitation or parenting time rights. These are two separate issues. Illinois courts typically favor custody arrangements in which both parents get a chance to see their children, but there are cases in which this is not in the child’s best interests. For example, if a parent has a severe substance abuse problem or has been violent toward the child in the past, he or she may be required to pay child support but does not have the right to spend time with the child.

Parents Must Comply with Parenting Time and Custody Orders

Many divorced and unmarried parents are bound by the terms of a child custody order. Parents cannot enforce child support payment by denying visitation in violation of the custody order. Not only is this method an ineffective way of getting child support, it can be extremely harmful to the child. Failure to comply with a court-ordered custody arrangement can lead to significant consequences – regardless of whether the other parent is behind on child support.

If a parent is not receiving child support, the best way to enforce the child support order is to work with a lawyer to take the appropriate administrative or judicial action.

Contact a Palatine Family Law Attorney

Arlington Heights family lawyer Nicholas W. Richardson can help you establish, modify, or enforce child support and child custody orders. If you are getting divorced or have other family law needs, call our office at 847.873.6741 and set up a free consultation.


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