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Child support, sometimes called child maintenance, is an ongoing periodic payment to meet the financial obligations that a parent owes to the custodial parent for the support of the child. It is frequently the most litigious aspect of the dissolution of marriage process. Most other contentious issues are settled when the divorce is finalized, but disputes concerning child support can continue for years.
Illinois has established a formula to determine the minimum amount of support that must be paid. It is a percentage of the net income of the supporting spouse and varies with the number of children involved:
- One child requires twenty percent of the net income
- Two children require twenty-eight percent of the net income
- Three children require thirty-two percent of the net income
- Four children require forty percent of the net income
- Five children require forty-five percent of the net income
- Six or more children require fifty percent of the net income
The court can determine that the amount set forth in the guidelines is inappropriate when considering the child's best interests. Some of the factors that may result in a deviation from the guidelines are:
- The financial requirements and resources of the child
- The financial requirements and resources of the custodial parent
- The living standards the child would have experienced if the parties had remained married
- The emotional and physical condition of the child
- The child's educational requirements
- The requirements and financial resources of the noncustodial spouse
If a party fails to pay child support it is punishable as is any other case of contempt and the party can be sentenced to probation or imprisonment as well as other penalties. Never refuse to make support payments, if there are valid reasons that you cannot pay, such as illness or unemployment, the court may modify your agreement if the proper petition is filed. Alternatively, the custodial parent may petition the court for an increase.
The child support payments may be given directly to the other spouse or, in some cases; it might be deducted out of one's paycheck, and sent directly to the State Disbursement Unit, which then forwards it to the recipient.