Divorce is a stressful process to navigate, especially if children are part of the equation. Fortunately, there are statutory guidelines in place to ensure that the reasonable and necessary physical, mental, and emotional health needs of the children are met. If you're considering or currently going through a divorce, or even a parentage case in which you have never been married to your child’s other parent, here are 4 things your attorney wants you to know about child support:
1. Child support is meant to cover the costs of food, clothing, and shelter for the children at a minimum. "Other expenses, including medical, education, extracurricular activities, and child care, can be equitably divided between the parties within the court's discretion," explained Erin Webster O'Brien, Divorce Attorney.
2. Child support is currently based on an income-sharing system that allocates the expenses of the child based on both parents’ respective income. "The method of calculating support has changed from the previous statutory guideline, with the focus no longer being solely on the income of the non-primary parent. Each parent is now responsible for a prorated share of the child's support, but it's calculated as an offset so that one parent pays the other," added O'Brien. "Payment options are available so the parents don't have to interact regarding child support, such as withholding it directly from a paycheck."
3. An attorney assists clients in several ways regarding child support. "I ensure all relevant discovery is obtained and utilized in the calculation to determine the proper amount of support," said O'Brien. "I also ensure that an income withholding order is properly drafted and processed."
4. The law isn't just based on each party's income, but it also focuses on the residential arrangements. "There's an additional offset to the child support calculation when each parent has the child for at least 146 overnights per year," said O'Brien. "Child support can also be reserved for future consideration of the court with no payments being exchanged if the parties choose this option, but support can't be waived."
For more information regarding child support guidelines, please contact:
Erin Webster O'Brien, Divorce Attorney
President, Will County Bar Association