How is Child Support Determined?

Answer: At present, our Illinois courts determine child support payments by using a percentage formula:

The Court shall determine the minimum amount of support by using the following guidelines:

Number of Children Percent of Supporting Party’s Net* Income
1 20%
2 28%
3 32%
4 40%
5 45%
6 or more 50%

* Net Income is defined in Section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

While our above statute states that the above percentages will be the minimum amount of support to be paid, the minimum has become the norm. The above percentages presume that the children reside with the obligee spouse and there are exceptions to the percentages. For example, the Court can go below the minimum if the child doesn’t need that much money. Michael Jordan’s child would not need 20% of $100,000,000 each year. Also, the percentages rarely apply if there is a split-custody arrangement where some of the children live with each of the parents.

While there are always exceptions, it is generally true that “net” income is defined as a total income from all sources minus the following deductions:

  1. Federal income tax properly calculated;
  2. State income tax properly calculated;
  3. Social Security payments;
  4. Mandatory retirement contributions required by law or as a condition of employment;
  5. Union dues;
  6. Dependent and individual health/hospitalization insurance premiums;
  7. Prior obligations of support or maintenance actually paid pursuant to a court order;
  8. Expenditures for repayment of debts that represent reasonable and necessary expenses for the production of income, medical expenditures necessary to preserve life or health, reasonable expenditures for the benefit of the child and the other parent, exclusive of gifts.

Daycare expenses are on-top of child support payments and are not “included” in child support.


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Richard and Kari are staunch advocates of the non-court approach to divorce, and are also active and seasoned litigators with over 60 years of combined trial experience in the Illinois divorce courts of Cook, DuPage, and Will counties.