Child support is part of virtually every divorce agreement when there are minor children in the picture. Generally, an amount is calculated by the court while the divorce is being hammered out, but sometimes, spouses reach an agreement themselves. Either way, the amount and frequency of child support is not often changeable. When it is, you must fulfill all the requirements for the order to be accepted by the court.
Illinois law dictates that support modifications can only be made once every three years or when a “significant change” has occurred within the family. There is some debate about what this specifically means. Generally speaking, a support order will not be modified by a court unless a parent can show a significant change or that at least a 20 percent differential will happen between the current amount of support and the amount that would result from a modification. However, the reason for that differential may vary.
Given the changing landscape of today’s health care and retirement laws, sometimes, the 20 percent difference can come from having to provide health care for a child that was not originally the parent’s responsibility. For example, if a child becomes disabled, or if a parent’s job title changes, their health care and retirement package may also change. Another possibility is if either parent loses their job. Such an event would affect the amount of child support the state would expect to be paid.
When one of the parents wants to change the amount of child support, he or she must file a motion with the appropriate court, but they are actually filing for a review of their existing order, not the creation of a new one, as some might believe. The parent must file a Petition to Modify an Order of Child Support (or, depending on the circumstances, to modify the divorce decree itself), which the court will then take into consideration.
You and the other parent will be advised as to whether your order qualifies for a review. If it does, you will be asked to provide proof of your income, as well as any other supporting evidence that speaks in favor of a modification. Generally, you will find out whether the review has been granted or denied via mail; there is no need to appear physically in court in all but the very rarest cases.
If you receive a determination you disagree with, however, and your order is judicial (as opposed to administrative; the former is set by a judge, while the latter is set by an administrative body), you may appear in court to contest the decision. If your order is administrative, you may request a new hearing in order to appeal. These options are only available if your order increases or decreases. If the review yields child support payments set at the same amount as before, you may simply request a re-determination with the same entity that made the first determination.
A Legal Professional Can Help
Sometimes, changes in your life make it impossible to pay the amount of child support you paid before, but no good parent wants to shortchange their children. Enlisting the help of a seasoned attorney can make the process easier. Contact an experienced DuPage County child support attorney to discuss your options. Call 630-871-1002 for a free consultation today.