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Parents have a duty to support their children in Illinois. Commonly, child support is Ordered by a Domestic Relations Judge or through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. To reduce a Child Support Order you will need to file a Petition for Modification of Child Support. What you write in your Petition and use as a basis for asking for that reduction makes all the difference as to whether your child support will be reduced.
10 Top Tips to Getting Your Child Support Reduced In Illinois
Tip One: The most recent new tip to get your child support reduced—if you are paying off student loans, you may be entitled to a child support reduction. Prior to the new Illinois Divorce Law changes as of January 1, 2016, Illinois divorce laws stopped Illinois divorce judges from deducting your student loan payments from income before applying child support guidelines. As of January 1, 2016, Illinois divorce and paternity law has changed. Illinois judges must now deduct your student loan payments from your income in calculating guideline child support. [750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3)(h)]
Tip Two: If you lose your job or employment, file a petition for reduction of child support as soon as possible. Whenever your income is reduced in "good faith," you are entitled to file a Petition to Reduce Child Support. Many Fathers wait until time has passed to ask for a reduction in their child support. However, law provides that an Illinois judge cannot reduce child support back in time—retroactively. Therefore it is important to file that Petition to reduce child support ASAP.
Tip Three: Make sure your "net income" is properly determined. There have been changes recently which create new deductions to determine your "net income" for child support. Life insurance premiums are a relatively new deduction that you are entitled to take. Illinois law now allows deductions for union dues and medical insurance premiums—not only insurance premiums for your children but your own premium as well. Additional deductions include repayments of certain kinds of debt.
Tip Four: You may seek a reduction in your child support if you spend a substantial amount of time with your children. Sometimes a parent will even have the children for half of the time. If you do spend a great deal of time with your children, then you may be entitled to a reduction in child support. If your children spend more than half of their time with you, then the guideline amount of child support may not apply. Illinois guidelines provide for 20 percent for one child of net income, 28 percent for two children, 35 percent for three children, and so forth. You may be able to reduce the percent of income paid as child support if you are spending a subsequent amount of time with your children.
Tip Five: Watch for commission income, bonuses and overtime. Many of those who pay child support do not realize that commissions are income, bonuses are income, and overtime pay is income subject to child support. Other benefits such as the free use of an automobile or expense account may also be considered income for child support purposes. As a father paying child support, sometimes it is better to be generous to your ex-spouse or the mother of your child before she asks for increases in child support based upon your increased earnings. Good fathers who do not fight with their ex's stand a much better chance of not being subjected to periodic increases in support.
Tip Six: Have your divorce or paternity lawyer negotiate an agreement. Make sure that any increase in support is credited towards your child's future college or trade school expenses. An experienced family lawyer will know that it is sometimes possible to avoid an increase in child support by agreeing to fund college or trade school accounts instead. But, tread carefully here since child support can never really be waived or restricted.
Tip Seven: Do not pay your child support in cash. If you pay child support, then do so by check or through a withholding order. The most trustworthy ex-spouse or mother may have a sudden lapse of memory as to all those cash payments you made. In addition, if you are ordered to pay by a withholding order from your paycheck, then do not make direct payments to your ex-spouse or mother of your child. Have those payments go through the State Disbursement Unit (SDU), so that there is a paper trail when your payments are received. The SDU will not pick up cash payments or payments made by you other than to the SDU.
Tip Eight: You cannot offset child support by paying for expenses of your child directly. If you do so, the mother or recipient of the child support is still entitled to the back support that you failed to pay.
Tip Nine: Your new spouse or live-in's income, while not directly used to calculate child support, will be used by your ex-spouse to argue that you have more money available since your expenses are being offset by another person.
Tip Ten: Regular gifts of money to you, or the payment of expenses by your parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters etc., can and will be considered part of your gross income in setting child support or to modify child support upwards. Be wary of accepting gifts or allowing others to pay your expenses.
If you have any questions regarding these tips feel free to call us. Consulting an experienced Hinsdale family law lawyer is the best investment you can make. Getting it right in the beginning, from the birth of your child on, will save you money, heartache and grief. As with most things in life, preparation is the most important thing you can do in getting your child support reduced or and setting it in the first place.