At Crosby & Crosby LLP, we have characterized both Child Support and Spousal Support as “Support.” We have done this because both Child Support and Spousal Support are determined using fixed calculations provided by the Illinois State Legislature. These are Illinois State Statutes that provide lawyers and their clients with specific calculations used to determine support. Both Child Support and Spousal Support (otherwise known as Maintenance or formerly known as Alimony, will take into consideration your entire financial picture of both parents. In addition to Child Support and Spousal Support, we have included information about Child Expenses, as these payments are separate and apart from the regularly paid Child Support.

Child Support

As we have discussed elsewhere on this website, Child Support is the term used for payments made by one parent to the other to support the day-to-day activities of your children. These are items such as clothes, food, reasonable entertainment and other daily expenses. These payments are not payments from one parent to the other for their living expenses, they are solely for the benefit of the children. Child Support terminates with a Court Order once the child reaches the age of 18 if they are finished with high school, or reaches the age of 19 while still attending high school. To learn more about the termination of Child Support, see our Modifications page. It is important to note that it is possible to receive Child Support beyond this age with a special Court Order, requiring payments to continue while your child or children attend college or another institution of higher learning.

How Child Support is Calculated

In the state of Illinois, we use a calculation provided by the Illinois State Legislature to determine how much Child Support is owed and which parent will receive it. This calculation takes into consideration the entire combined gross income of each parent, then allocates a percentage of that combined income into a number for Child Support. This calculation will also consider additional information such as Child Support payments made by a parent for children of another relationship and health insurance premiums for the children’s health insurance coverage. This information is typically gathered using a form called a “Financial Affidavit.” At the onset of each case involving children, each parent will be required by the Court to file this affidavit and provide a copy to the other parent or their attorney. Additional information may be used and obtained through the legal process known as discovery. Once this information is gathered and understood, the calculation will also consider the number of overnight stays each child has with each parent and the total number of children.

In Illinois, it is important to understand that Child Support is only impacted by the number of overnights over 146, on average, throughout the year. To put that into perspective, having your children for three nights per week equals 156 over the course of the year. If this number is achieved or surpassed, the Child Support payment will decrease. It should go without saying that the goal is to split parenting time equally, but if it is not equal, it should be understood that 146 overnights is the threshold for decreasing Child Support payments. At the conclusion of this calculation, the parent with the minority of overnights will pay the parent with the majority of overnights a Child Support payment. It is also important to note that it is not always the parent making a greater income that is required to make payments. It may be the case that the parent with lesser income has the children the majority of the time and may have to make payments to the parent with the greater income. All of these calculations differ considering the income of each parent, the expenses both parents pay and the total overnights for each.

Remember each parent has a duty to support their children and as such, it is also possible to petition the Court to request that one spouse seek additional or new employment to assist with their children’s support. This petition is not always successful for a number of possible reasons, but it should always be something you discuss with your lawyer.
Child Expenses

Child Expenses are additional costs that your children incur outside of their day-to-day lives. These expenses are typically things like registration fees for sports or clubs. They can be things like summer camp or daycare. They can also be related to academics. Things such as tutor fees, the cost of special education assistance, and even uncovered health care bills, including expenses for vision and dental work like braces or glasses. All of these expenses, and possibly more, will be considered apart from Child Support and should be included in your final order.

How Child Expenses are Calculated

There is no set calculation for Child Expenses like there is for Child Support. That said, the method by which we determine how much one parent should pay differs based on the case. Generally, these expenses are split equally, but it is not unheard of to place a cap on the total amount the parents should split. For example, your final order may state that each parent should split expenses up to $5,000.00 per year. Any expenses after that may become the sole responsibility of the parent incurring the expenses. This example is certainly not the case in all family matters, but it is a real life example from a previous client. Obviously, Child Expenses vary greatly case to case and your outcome may be very different from the example above, depending on your children’s hobbies and needs.

Spousal Support (Maintenance/Alimony)

Spousal Support or Maintenance/Alimony is the term used to describe a Court Ordered sum of money one spouse pays another at the conclusion of and/or during a divorce. As the name implies, Spousal Support is only ordered in a Divorce case. This is the monthly sum of money paid by the spouse with greater income to the spouse with lesser income. The purpose of this payment is to try to put the spouse making the lesser income into a financial position most similar to the position that spouse was in prior to the Divorce. It is often the case that one parent has been spending a larger amount of their time raising children or looking after the marital estate. As such, this parent is often limited in their income and Spousal Support is used to supplement that parent’s income in the future. It is also important to note that spouses have the ability to petition the Court to request that their spouse seek new employment to assist with this income gap. Spouses have a duty to provide for themselves as much as possible. This petition is not always going to be granted for a number of possible reasons, but it is always something that should be considered in a divorce. Be sure to speak with your attorney about the potential of filing this petition in your case. Please also remember that Spousal Support can be terminated with proof that your former spouse is now cohabiting with another person in a marriage like relationship or that they have actually remarried.

How Spousal Support is Calculated

Spousal Support, like Child Support, is calculated using the income and full financial picture of both parties. That calculation is set by state law, but the end result is, as it is with everything else in these cases, negotiable and agreements can be made between the parties for amounts other than those calculated using the state’s calculation. As with the Child Support calculation discussed above, Spousal Support is calculated using the formula provided by the State Legislature. This formula will consider the combined gross income of both parties and the total duration of the mariage. The longer the marriage, the longer Spousal Support will be paid. If the marriage lasted 20 or more years, the duration of Spousal Support may be for the entire length of the marriage. For example, if your marriage lasted 34 years, your support will most likely be ordered for 34 years. This duration is at the discretion of the Court, so this is not necessarily the case, but it is the default assumption. The exact phrase used in the Illinois Statute is: “For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court, in its discretion, shall order maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage or for an indefinite term.”

If you or someone you know is in need of a family law attorney, call us today. Our highly skilled team works with our clients to provide the knowledge and experience needed to build a successful winning legal strategy. Schedule your free initial consultation with a Rockford Divorce Law Attorney today to learn more about the services our team can provide you.

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Helpful questions about family law

How to choose the right divorce lawyer?

Choosing the right divorce lawyer, in our mind, comes down to three factors. First, is this lawyer going to be an aggressive advocate for me? Second, is this lawyer a person I can get along with personally? Third, do I trust this lawyer to communicate with me effectively? If you walk away from an initial consultation with a lawyer answering yes to those three questions, you have likely found the lawyer who is right for you.

Legal work can be extremely time consuming. Your expectations should not necessarily be that your lawyer is someone you can vent to about your personal life, as that would likely result in an unreasonably high bill. But you should expect your lawyer to keep you informed as to the status of your case. You should also expect your lawyer to listen to your wishes and concerns and use those thoughts as a basis for your case. You don’t need to talk to your lawyer everyday, but you should hear from them every other week or so.

Expect the unexpected when it comes to the Court dates. The Court system is based on a first-come-first-serve calendar, when the case is not filed as an emergency. All initial Court dates are determined by the Clerk of the Court, not of the lawyer or client. If you have a lawyer, expect the Judges to want your lawyer to do the talking, unless the Judge asks the client a question directly. You should also expect the Judge to keep the Courtroom as orderly as possible. Judges very much look down on people who speak out of turn. As for dress, the Court does not require a strict dress code, but it is always a good idea to dress professionally to show the Judge that you take the system and their Courtroom seriously.

There is a process in the law referred to as “discovery” that allows a party to a legal proceeding to discover information about the opposing party. In the context of a divorce, “discovery” is primarily used in the form of written questions and written requests for the opposing party to provide documents to the party that is doing the requesting. These are called “interrogatories” and “requests to produce.” During the process, the party answering the questions or requests must provide a written testimony, under oath, that the documents and answers are true and accurate. It is through this process of “discovery” that we are able to learn what assets a party possesses.

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