Million Dollar Child Support in Illinois: How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child?
The newest twist in the divorce of a Chicago hedge fund owner and his wife is her alleged request for $1 million a month in child support for their three children. To all but the most wealthy families (and even to most of them) $1 million per month seems excessive. But it raises the question, if child support is based on statutory guidelines, how can one parent request a certain amount of support, and what would it take for the Court to award it?
Children of Divorce Entitled to Same Lifestyle
Child support is based on a statutory formula that takes into consideration the net income of the obligor (the parent paying support) and the number of children to be supported. Once the Court determines the obligor’s net income, he/she must pay a percentage of his/her monthly net income based on the number of children he/she has. For example, an obligor with three children must pay 32 percent of the monthly net income.
But the Court can deviate from the child support guidelines and award a higher amount, taking into consideration, among other things, “the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved.” The rationale behind this rule is to stabilize the children’s lives as much as possible. In families where one parent’s income is vastly higher than the other parent’s, the children will have opportunities at one parent’s house that the will not have at another’s. The wealthier parent may be able to take the children on lavish vacations to exotic locales, while the other parent can only afford to take the children out of state to the grandparent’s house. The wealthier parent can buy the child a brand new car, while the other parent has to share his car with the child.
These inequities can cause confusion, and even animosity, in the child. Depending on their age, they may not understand why one parent works just as hard as other but can only afford to take them out to dinner for special occasions, while eating out with other parent is a regular occurrence. This can cause the child to become resentful toward the less wealthy parent, or upset and angry at the wealthier parent that the other parent is perceived to be struggling. This breakdown in the parent-child relationship over one parent’s ability (or inability) to provide for the child at the same level as the other is what the deviation rule seeks to avoid.
The rule goes in the other direction as well. The Court can order the obligor to pay less than the statutory amount. And of course the Court can choose not to deviate from the statutory amount, even if the standard of living would be different. The decision to deviate is entirely in the judge’s discretion.
Palatine Child Support Attorney
Child support awards are determined by statutory guidelines, so in most cases the amount the obligor parent will be required to pay is a given. But under certain circumstances the Court can deviate from the statutory guidelines and order an increased amount of child support. Drawing on more than 10 years’ experience, Palatine child support attorney Nicholas W. Richardson can help you obtain a child support award that is appropriate for your specific family circumstances. Serving clients in Palatine, Arlington Heights, Rolling Meadows and the surrounding Northwest Suburbs, contact the office today for a free initial consultation.