Child and spousal support are a part of life for many Illinois residents. Hever, even if the agreement to provide one or both was signed in good faith at the time of a divorce, things change. Child support and spousal support payments may both be modified if you are able to show a substantial change in your circumstances, and while this may seem vague or confusing, the law is fairly clear as to the procedure that must be followed.
Why Is a Substantial Change Required?
For your child support payments to change, your income or living situation must change to the point where the current amount is no longer appropriate. For example, if you had formerly agreed—or been ordred—to pay $200 per month, but then took a substantial pay cut, it could be appropriate to lower your support payments since your income is correspondingly less. To keep payments high when you may no longer be able to afford them is inequitable at best, and at worst, can be devastating to the standard of living for the paying parent.
There are rare circumstances where you may petition for a change in the amount of support without showing a substantial change in your circumstances, but in those cases, there is still an alternative provided so that the child’s standard of living will not drop. For example, one of the more common exceptions is asking for an adjustment of support payments if the child is moved onto the paying parent’s health insurance. If that occurs, the paying parent is essentially paying for all of the child’s health care, which is likely not an insignificant sum. However, most cases will demand the showing of substantial change before adjustments to support payments will be discussed.
Factors to Be Considered
It is important to understand that a mere change in your income level is usually not sufficient to merit a change in support payments. The court will examine the events behind the raise or loss of income, such as voluntarily accepting a pay cut or trading pay for other benefits like fewer responsibilities or working closer to home. Some other factors often taken into account include the emancipation of one or more children (either by reaching the age of 18 or becoming emancipated minors), a change in the child’s needs (such as acquiring a physical disability), and a decline in the health of the paying parent that is severe enough to affect his or her ability to work.
Another critical fact that many couples forget or ignore is that no agreement regarding child or spousal support that is not approved by the court will be enforceable. The most common out-of-court agreement couples make, prenuptial agreements, cannot make provisions for child support in particular, and any other agreement to refuse modification or to stick to an arbitrary fee schedule will usually be set aside. Support issues should be dealt with at the time of divorce in the presence of a mediator or family court judge in Illinois.
A Family Law Attorney Can Help
Life happens, and sometimes it can have an effect on your income and standard of living that is unforeseeable. We all want to meet our obligations, but only if we can do so without actively harming ourselves. If you have a support order that needs to be changed, contact a Wheaton family lawyer. Call Andrew Cores Family Law Group at 630-871-1002 for a free consultation today.