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How Does Illinois Child Support Work?

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Generally, when one parent has the majority of parenting time with the minor children, the other parent will be required to pay child support.  There may be exceptions to this rule, but this article covers the basic process of how child support is calculated and paid in the majority of family law cases. 

How is Illinois Child Support Calculated? 

Child support is calculated by first taking the payor’s gross income, then subtracting certain deductions allowed by statute.  After deductions are subtracted, the remaining amount, or net income, is multiplied by a certain percentage depending on how many minor children the parties have.



“Income” for purposes of calculating child support can include not only income earned from employment salary or hourly pay, but also bonuses and overtime.  In certain cases, Illinois courts have even found that portions of workers’ compensation payments or personal injury settlements could be considered “income” from which child support must be paid.  If the payor has fluctuating income, his or her income history will be examined to determine the average gross income from which to begin calculating child support. 



After a figure for gross income is determined, certain deductions are subtracted from this number.  Such deductions may include:

  • Federal Taxes
  • State Taxes
  • Social Security/FICA
  • Mandatory retirement contributions
  • Union Dues
  • Individual and dependent insurance premiums for health, dental and vision
  • Insurance premiums for life insurance, if court ordered
  • Any prior court-ordered maintenance or child support obligations, from previous and unrelated cases
  • Expenses for repayment of debts which were incurred for the production of income
  • Medical expenses necessary to preserve life or health
  • Reasonable expenses for the benefit of the child and the other parent, not including gifts



After the proper deductions are subtracted, the remaining amount is called the payor’s net income.  The net income is then multiplied by a statutory percentage.  The percentage to use depends on the number of minor children:

  • 20% for one child
  • 28% for two children
  • 32% for three children
  • 40% for four children
  • 45 % for five children
  • 50% for six or more children

Child support is often calculated based on the payor’s pay cycle (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.).  For example, if the payor is paid bi-weekly, his gross bi-weekly pay would be used as the starting point.  Taxes and other deductions would be subtracted in bi-weekly amounts, to determine the net bi-weekly income.  Then, the percentage would be applied to the net income to determine the bi-weekly child support payments.


How is Child Support Paid?

In most cases, child support payments will be automatically withheld from the payor’s pay check, and sent to the payee.  If both parents agree, then child support can be paid directly from the payor to the payee.  It is often recommended that child support be automatically withheld, as this creates a record with the State of Illinois of when payments have been made.

Automatic withholding of child support payments are processed through the Illinois State Disbursement Unit (SDU).  This department maintains contact with the payor’s employer to ensure that child support is being properly withdrawn from the payor’s paycheck, and sent to the SDU for processing.  After the SDU receives the child support payment from the employer, they can either send a check to the payee, or even arrange direct deposits to the payee’s bank account. 


How Do I Get Child Support?

Typically, the parent who has the majority of parenting time with the children will be the parent who receives child support.  To start the process, a petition must be filed with the court.  If there is a pending divorce case, a parent may petition to receive child support payments while the case is ongoing.  If the parents have never been married, then a parental relationship must be established before child support can be paid.  If the payor signed a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity when the child was born, a copy of this document can be used to help establish paternity in court.  After paternity is established, the judge will determine which parent should be granted the majority of parenting time.  Quite often this is granted to the parent who has been spending more time taking care of the child, however the judge’s decision can vary depending on the facts of each case, and based on the best interests of the child.

(815) 207-9570

Call to schedule an initial consultation

If you are in need of legal representation on a Will County, Dupage County, or Kendall County child support case, contact one of our experienced child support lawyers at (815) 207-9570 to schedule a consultation.  

The information on this site is not legal advice.  Retain an attorney licensed in the state which has jurisdiction over your matter before taking any action which affects your legal issues, legal marital status or custody arrangements, and follow the advice of your retained lawyer.