A Brief Summary of Child Support in Illinois

Parent’s Responsibility to Support Their Children

In Illinois both parents have a duty to support their children; and, by statute, the duty of support, includes an obligation to provide for the “reasonable and necessary physical, mental and emotional health needs” of the children.


Application of Child Support Guidelines

Generally, in an Illinois action brought pursuant to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Act, the non-custodial or non-residential spouse will be ordered by the court to pay child support to the custodial or residential spouse. The court determines the minimum amount of child support pursuant the following guidelines:



Only with the requisite finding can the Court deviate above or below the guidelines in setting a party’s child support obligation.The Court must apply the above statutory guidelines in every case unless it makes a finding after considering all relevant evidence that the application of the child support guidelines would be inappropriate and not in the child?s best interests.


Calculation of Net Income

For purposes of setting a child support, a party’s net income includes not just their salary, but income from all sources minus certain deductions which are specifically listed in the child support statute, 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3). In determining a party’s net income for the purposes of calculating his/her child support obligation, the Court is prohibited from deducting any amounts that cannot be included in one of the categories as set forth in the aforementioned statute.


Modification of Child Support Obligations

Once a party’s initial child support obligation is determined by the Court, any subsequent increases or decreases in that obligation are also strictly controlled by statute. An existing order for child support may be increased or decreased at any time provided that the party can meet the statutory requirements set forth in 750 ILCS 5/510(a). However, it is imperative that a person seeking to modify child support promptly file a motion seeking a modification as the statute prohibits modification of any child support installment accruing prior to the motion being filed.


No Statute of Limitation on Collection of Past Due Child Support

In July 1997 735 ILCS 5/12-108(a) was amended to add the following: “Child support judgments, including those arising by operation of law, may be enforced at any time”. As a result of this amendment, there is no statute of limitations barring a claim for past due child support. Therefore, a party may seek to collect past due child support at any time. Illinois courts have now determined that this amendment may be applied retroactively to child support judgments entered before this amendment was enacted.


Independence of Child Support and Visitation

A parent’s child support obligation and his/her visitation rights are independent covenants in Illinois. In other words, a parent’s failure to pay a child support obligation does not take his/her visitation rights; and, conversely, a parent’s failure to exercise visitation rights does not relieve him/her of the obligation to pay child support.