When Should I Modify a Child Support Obligation?

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When Should I Modify a Child Support Obligation?

Income change is the most common reason to seek a child support change. Most people change jobs about a dozen times during the course of a career. Almost all these changes involve salary changes. Even if the obligor or obligee stays put, annual salary reviews are common. Since Illinois is an income share state, the income of each parent usually factors into the child support calculation.

Other factors usually affect the amount, as well, such as the parenting time division — specifically the number of overnights.

Generally, a Lincolnshire family law attorney can help you modify your child support amount as long as the life change was significant, at least mostly involuntary, and unanticipated when the judge entered the most recent child support order.

Income Changes

All three of the aforementioned issues come to bear regarding income changes. These are the most common child support modifications in Cook County.

The new income must be at least 20% higher, or lower, per month to constitute a substantial change. This change must also be permanent. Self-employment income fluctuations and other such changes probably justify an increase or decrease if the moving party establishes a trend that has lasted at least several months.

Obligors cannot voluntarily leave high-paying jobs to reduce their child support obligations. Evidence on this point includes social media posts or likes complaining about the high cost of child support or child-rearing in general. Voluntary early retirement might not justify a change, either. That is also true with regard to spousal support modification.

Finally, the change must be unanticipated. Annual raises, even if they are a little larger than usual, are not unanticipated.

Income-based changes sometimes involve proof issues. That is especially true if the obligee requests an increase based on the obligor’s increased income. To determine if it is a good idea to ask for an increase, look for lifestyle changes, such as a new car or a larger house.

Expense Changes

These same rules apply with regard to the children’s expense changes. Age-related changes are normally not acceptable. Children inevitably get older, and their needs change, as well. Additionally, the expense changes must be significant.

The expense change must reflect the best interests of the children, as opposed to the best interests of the parents. A highly-rated, and highly expensive daycare might be marginally better than YMCA afterschool care, but it might not be a significant improvement for the children.

Emotional Changes

Bonds between parents and their children change over time. Young children feel closer to one parent, and that bond might shift as they grow older. Additionally, spending more time with Mom or Dad is not always in the child’s best interests.

Moreover, as mentioned, the parenting time change must be significant. A few days here and there might not make much of a difference. But if the parents agree to a major parenting time shift, that is different. For example, the parents might elect to move from a traditional every other weekend/every other holiday division to a nontraditional block scheduling pattern. In this timesharing arrangement, children spend a week or two with Parent A, a week or two with Parent B, and the cycle repeats.

Contact a Lawyer

Obligors and obligees both have legal and financial rights in child support modification matters. For a free consultation with an experienced Rolling Meadows divorce attorney, contact the Andrea Heckman Law After-hours visits are available.

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